Latest Instagram Update Creates Potential Privacy Issue

February 15, 2016 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

It’s been exactly a week since Instagram rolled out its latest multi-account update which allows users to easily switch between accounts on their device. While the new feature works more or less as expected, it still managed to achieve what software updates in general are often prone to doing – break existing stuff. Specifically, a particularly problematic bug was just discovered in the latest version of Instagram after it turned out that some users can see personal notifications including Direct messages of other users.

While the specific cause of this problem is still unknown, there’s little doubt that it’s connected to joint account management. So, if multiple people are managing, i.e. sharing an Instagram account, they will also often receive personal notifications from non-shared accounts of other users with whom they’re sharing a single account. For example, if the Android Headlines Instagram page has three community managers who are updating and managing it, these three now also see each other’s personal notifications and at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any way to prevent this. Apart from the fact that Instagram users are now receiving notifications which they shouldn’t be receiving, another issue within this issue is that related push notifications are arriving according to the settings chosen by the original users. In other words, many Instagram users are now bombarded with notifications even though their very own accounts are set-up to not do that. Naturally, the problematic notifications don’t actually lead to anything as after you click on them, the app “realizes” you’re not actually logged into the account it’s notifying you about. This is still a huge privacy issue as it reveals both account names and snippets of their comments and messages sent to other users.

While the bug isn’t consistently reproducible, numerous Instagram users are still confirming it’s happening at the time of writing this. It’s also yet to be determined whether this is just a server-side, or also a client-side issue, but hopefully, Instagram will fix it in a hasty manner, especially since the company has already confirmed that it’s aware of the problem and is working on a solution. With a bit of luck, the upcoming video caption update won’t break more Instagram features, or at the very least won’t create additional privacy issues.