Instagram is a black hole for your data, and Reels sucks

As if we needed more evidence that your data isn’t in good hands with Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., Instagram was just forced to admit that it was hoarding photos and private messages in its database long after users erased them. This is something they claimed they didn’t do.

Instagram was caught red handed by an independent security researcher by the name of Saugat Pokharel. Mr Pokharel was making use of the app’s “Data Download” feature when he realized that contained in his data were photos and private messages that he had deleted over a year ago. Instagram claims that it can take up to 90 days for deleted data to really be deleted, meaning totally removed from its servers. In other words, they’re liars. Go figure.

Speaking to TechCrunch Mr Pokharel said, “Instagram didn’t delete my data even when I deleted them from my end.”

Instagram’s Data Download tool was launched in 2018 in order to satisfy EU privacy laws. Modeled on Facebook’s “Download Your Information” tool, it enables users to download and export photos, videos, profile information, contacts, the usernames of followers, and yada yada yada.

Mr Pokharel reported the “bug” to the company’s “bug bounty program” and was paid $6,000 for his efforts. There are many things a person could do with that cash. One of the wisest would be to put it into an SEM agency in Singapore.

In a statement Instagram said, “We’ve fixed the issue and have seen no evidence of abuse. We thank the researcher for reporting this issue to us.”

In other Instagram news, its TikTok ripoff—Instagram Reels—is off to a slow start. Publishers and advertisers are not impressed by what they have seen thus far. One publisher told Digiday that

“There’s no revenue on it. The problem is that TikTok is one minute but Instagram Reels are 15 seconds. We actually didn’t have enough content to re-use. We didn’t want to add additional workflow for a 15-second video. You can’t really prioritize something which doesn’t fit with the format of anything else you’re doing.”

Separately, the New York Times called Reels “a dud.”