Facebook’s Privacy Troubles Spread to Instagram

Are Facebook’s privacy troubles spreading to Instagram? Reports detail privacy problems at Facebook’s star social app, Instagram.

Ruchi Gupta - Author

Sep. 16 2019, Updated 10:01 a.m. ET

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Instagram seems to be sinking into the same privacy troubles that have long dogged Facebook, its sister social app. Forbes reports that Facebook (FB) recently rushed to seal a serious security vulnerability in its Instagram app. The Instagram security vulnerability left a loophole that a hacker could exploit to access Instagram users’ account information. The data at risk included people’s real names, usernames, account numbers, and phone numbers. With such data, a hacker could compromise Instagram accounts, according to Forbes.

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Facebook’s privacy troubles can’t seem to stop

To add to the Instagram security news, a BuzzFeed report cast doubts on the privacy of Instagram posts. According to BuzzFeed, photos and videos that people intend to keep private in their Instagram accounts can be accessed and distributed publicly with a simple hack. Instagram’s privacy troubles are coming to light shortly after a massive database was found exposing Facebook users’ phone numbers.

The privacy troubles at Instagram couldn’t come at a more difficult time for its parent, Facebook. As we discussed previously, Facebook risks losing billions of dollars in compensation to users who claim it failed to protect their personal data. And just a few months ago, Facebook agreed to pay $5.0 billion in a landmark privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The company is also the subject of antitrust probes by states and federal agencies.

The Instagram privacy concerns also come as the app’s uptake is falling. According to CNBC, Bank of America analysts report Instagram app downloads have dropped 9.0% year-over-year so far in the third quarter.

Instagram larger than Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest

Instagram is one of Facebook’s star social apps. As of June 2018, Instagram had more than 500 million daily users and 1.0 billion monthly users worldwide. In comparison, Snapchat (SNAP) had just 203 million daily users at the end of this year’s second quarter. Twitter (TWTR) finished the second quarter with 139 daily users and previously disclosed having 330 million monthly users. Pinterest (PINS) exited the second quarter with 300 million monthly users.

Facebook, which monetizes Instagram through advertising, has revealed that Instagram alone had 2.0 million active advertisers. Most recently, Facebook said that it has over 7.0 million advertisers across its platforms, including Instagram. We’ll have to wait and see if Instagram’s privacy troubles slow its growth.


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