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Instagram Can Monitor Users’ Web Activity Each Time They Click On A Link, Claims New Report

The Instagram app has been accused of monitoring users’ activity, each time they press on a link located on the platform. The news was mentioned as a part of a new analysis that accused the famous social media app of keeping tabs on what users were doing when logged in.

But it’s not just interactions that Instagram was viewing, but everything from particular texts selected to text added, and even passwords among other sensitive details. The analysis was also seen speaking about how private information related to credit cards seen within a particular webpage was also found.

The analysis was recently conducted by a researcher named Felix Krause who further elaborated on how social media giants Facebook and Instagram used their own iOS browser, instead of the classic one put on offer for use by tech giant Apple when dealing with third-party applications.

When a webpage is usually loaded, apps end up using Safari but in this case, both Meta-owned apps failed to do so. They make use of certain in-app browsing experiences to load sites on the app.

The browser is custom designed and is still related to Webkit but the way these apps function is definitely shady. They are able to carry out numerous tracking experiences by injecting a particular JavaScript code dubbed ‘Meta Pixel’ across different links and sites on display. And using this particular code, they have the ability to track whomever they want and whenever they want, without gaining any form of consent whatsoever.

This way, the analyst found how Instagram was able to oversee different types of activity taking place through external web pages, without any consent allowed from the website owner or the user.


Another interesting aspect to note is how the app can put in tracking codes for all sites shown, even those that function by simple ad clicking. This way, they’re able to better monitor all sorts of interactions, including screenshots, data inputs, addresses, passwords, and more.

Krause says it’s not easy for tech giants to go on developing their own browsers, instead of using the usual ones that are built inside like Safari. If you pay a visit to the company’s developer portal, they’ve boldly outlined how their ‘Meta Pixel’ has been created to monitor the activity of any visitors on the webpage through a customized browser in place.

As of now, there is no clear evidence that delineates how Meta has ever collected users’ data using this technique but it’s definitely an eye-opener to many, for obvious reasons.

Krause has repeatedly mentioned in his analysis report that she isn’t trying to prove that Meta has stolen his data, his passwords, and his credit card numbers yet. At the same time, he is yet to show that Instagram is currently carrying out tracking activities.

However, his whole motive for this particular research is to prove that this is what they’re capable of without taking any consent from the users to which the data belongs to. He even highlighted how the past has proven to us that if firms can gain access to data without paying and taking consent, they’re going to use it for tracking purposes.

But when you actually look at the accusations being made, this is a clear and wide violation of the app tracking transparency policy outlined by Apple which needs apps to take user content before going about doing their tracking business on different web pages and apps.

We’ve seen Meta in the past lash out at Apple’s theory of tracking and even attack the tech giant for this huge change. There is also a clear mention in the recent report of how Krause has shared all findings with Meta which has generated a response.

They claim there is certainly an issue but are yet to get back to him. For this reason, he opted to give the tech giant 14 days before going with his findings in public.

Read next: Instagram CEO Highlights Control Features That Better Customize What Users See On The App

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