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Security & privacy

With just a couple clicks, anyone can see your private photos online

We all know better than to believe Facebook when it says something is private. You don’t really believe that the conversations and photos you’re sharing with someone else on Facebook are private, do you?

No, they’re not. It’s scary how easy it is to get your hands on these things, especially on another service Facebook owns.

We’ll tell you about the workaround people use to access your private photos, as well as another we found ourselves.

Getting around pesky privacy settings

Just in case you don’t know, the popular social media site Instagram is owned by Facebook. There’s your first red flag.

Now, you’ve set your Instagram account to private, which means only the people you allow to follow you can see the photos you post. Well, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Buzzfeed discovered a workaround that allows you to take photos from private accounts and share them with people who may not even be on Instagram. A little HTML knowledge is all you’ll need.

All you have to do is open your Instagram on a computer browser and click on the person who let you into their private feed. You’ll see all the photos they have posted. Click right on the image and click on Inspector.

The photo will appear on the right. On the left-hand side, you’ll see a box with code. From there, click on Network in the toolbar, then click on Img.

If the box is empty, reload the page and you’ll see the information attached to all your images on the post. Click on the last item and that will show you the URL for the photo.

Copy it and go to a new tab and paste it in the search bar. Notice that you’re out of Instagram and onto a Facebook page. That’s where the photo is being stored. From there, just share the URL with friends.

According to BuzzFeed, these URLs can still get images from Facebook servers even after the posts have been deleted. This is true for photos posted to the feed and for stories, which delete after 24 hours. The story will remain on Facebook servers for several days after they expire.

You can also share conversations found a way where you can share a private interaction with a friend who is in privacy mode. Search for the user name on Instagram and click on it when you find it. That will bring up a page filled with all of your friend’s posts. Click on one and you can plainly see the photo and the conversation.

Click on View Page Source.

Next, you’ll see a page filled with code. Midway down you’ll see a long list of links. Copy the https code on the first listing.

Go to a new tab and paste in the code and you can see and share the photo and conversation.

There are a lot of things to unpack about these methods. First, what kind of friend would share your private photos and conversations? Also, why is this information so easy to find?

Facebook and a number of commentators stated that all the HTML searching could be replaced by simply taking a screenshot. This is true.

But what we find most bothersome is that the Instagram photos are sitting on a Facebook server. And we all know how carelessly Facebook treats our information, which makes that particularly frightening.

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