Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Instagram is under fire for not emptying your trash

Instagram is facing new criticism after a security researcher discovered images and direct messages he had deleted from his account remained on the company’s servers for more than a year.

TechCrunch brings word from researcher Saugat Pokharel, who made the alarming discovery when he downloaded his data from the service after new 2018 EU data rules came into effect.

“Instagram didn’t delete my data even when I deleted them from my end,” Pokharel said, revealing the images and messages he’d considered long deleted were visible to him. He explains the full saga in a post on Medium.

Related: How to delete your Instagram account

After informing Instagram of his troubling discovery, the company claimed it was a bug and paid the researcher a bug bounty $6,000 for his troubles. The company usually says it takes around three months for the data to be removed from the servers. The issue was reported to Instagram in October last year and the company said it was quickly fixed.

In a statement, the Facebook-owned social network said: “The researcher reported an issue where someone’s deleted Instagram images and messages would be included in a copy of their information if they used our Download Your Information tool on Instagram. We’ve fixed the issue and have seen no evidence of abuse. We thank the researcher for reporting this issue to us.”

So remember folks, just because you think you’ve deleted those photos and messages, it doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. But then this is Facebook we’re dealing with here. You probably knew that already.

Facebook isn’t alone though. Twitter was heavily criticised for a similar incident last year when deleted messages remained within the company’s servers long after the user had expunged them from their account.

Is this really just as simple as the social media giants forgetting to empty their recycle bins? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.