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Instagram could start hiding like counts

Instagram: likes aren't that important anyway...right?
Instagram: likes aren’t that important anyway…right?

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Instagram might be changing up one of the most fundamental parts of its service: likes.

New screenshots suggest the company is testing a way to hide like counts in Instagram posts. Images uncovered by researcher Jane Manchun Wong reveal Instagram feed posts that no longer show exact like counts. Instead, you see that a post was liked by a few named handles “and others.”

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” Instagram says in an in-app message explaining the change. “During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”

In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson said the feature is not being tested “at the moment,” but that “exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”

Instagram testing changes to like counts would fit with other changes the company has made. Last year, it introduced a tool to help you keep track of how much time you spend in the app. And Instagram, which has been criticized for its effect on mental health, has added anti-bullying features. 

Like counts may not seem as problematic as bullying, but Instagram critics have pointed to it as one aspect that contributes to the service’s potential negative effects. Like counts can be a source of social pressure, particularly for younger users. De-emphasizing likes could potentially make Instagram a little healthier. 

Whether or not this experiment will ever be more than just one of the company’s many tests is unclear. Facebook and Instagram are constantly testing new features — many of which never launch. But, at the very least, it shows they are searching for ways to address some of their harsher critics.

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Facebook reveals ‘millions’ of Instagram passwords were exposed

Millions of Instagram passwords were exposed by Facebook.
Millions of Instagram passwords were exposed by Facebook.

Image: Chesnot / Getty Images

Welp, it looks like millions of Instagram accounts were left out in the open for Facebook employees to see. 

A full month after Facebook admitted it mistakenly stored hundreds of million of passwords in plaintext where employees could see them, the company quietly added a significant update: that millions of Instagram passwords were also affected.

“Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” Facebook wrote. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed.”

The company did not offer an explanation on why it took four weeks for this additional piece of information to be added to its initial disclosure, or why it chose to do so at almost exactly the same time as the entire freaking Mueller report dropped.

The initial password issue was only disclosed after KrebsOnSecurity revealed its existence thanks to an anonymous tipster. About 20,000 employees had access to the passwords, according to his sources. Now, we know “millions” of Instagram passwords were also floating around for employees to find, though Facebook says it’s found no evidence of that happening. 

But even though Facebook claims nothing nefarious came of the blunder, it’s alarming that the company would be so careless with Instagram passwords. Many Instagram users are already deal with frequent hacking attempts, and users whose accounts are hacked are often unable to get them back because of Instagram’s flawed support system. That so many passwords were exposed doesn’t support the company’s assertions that it cares about its users’ security.

It’s equally troubling that the company would wait for one of the most momentous political events in recent memory to disclose the information and would bury it in a month-old press release. Instagram says it will notify those affected directly, so all users should probably keep an eye out for any emails from Instagram. (And, needless to say, if you do get such an email from Facebook, you should definitely change you password.)

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Facebook now says its password leak affected ‘millions’ of Instagram users

Facebook has confirmed its password-related security incident last month now affects “millions” of Instagram users, not “tens of thousands” as first thought.

The social media giant confirmed the new information in its updated blog post, first published on March 21.

“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” the company said. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

“Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed,” the updated post said, but the company still has not said how it made that determination.

The social media giant did not say how many millions were affected, however.

Last month, Facebook admitted it had inadvertently stored “hundreds of millions” of user account passwords in plaintext for years, said to have dated as far back as 2012. The company said the unencrypted passwords were stored in logs accessible to some 2,000 engineers and developers. The data was not leaked outside of the company, however. Facebook still hasn’t explained how the bug occurred.

Facebook posted the update at 10am ET — an hour before the Special Counsel’s report into Russian election interference was set to be published.

When reached, spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said Facebook does not have “a precise number” yet to share, and declined to say exactly when the additional discovery was made.

CIA director promises agency will soon launch an Instagram account

Spies: always doin' it for the gram.
Spies: always doin’ it for the gram.

Image: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Espionage it for the ‘gram!

During an address at Auburn University in Alabama, CIA Director Gina Haspel unveiled some de-classified information about the CIA’s next big move: it’s launching an Instagram page.

Haspel clued the audience into the agency’s decision while talking about the social media savvy of new recruits, as well as transparency and the challenges of an agency devoted to secrets communicating its work to the public.

“Just to talk a moment about transparency, of course CIA does have a Twitter account,” Haspel said. “Our office of public affairs is getting ready to launch our Instagram account.”

“It’s a brave new world,” moderator and former head of intelligence agencies Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, who earlier acknowledged he was known as the “father of Guantanamo Bay,” said with a sigh, alluding to the dystopian novel about a world of unquestioned government authority.

Haspel acknowledged that some within the CIA weren’t too thrilled about the agency having social media. Because, ya know, spy stuff.

“We try and be as open as we can, and to protect the secrets that we must protect,” Haspel said.

Of course, the CIA isn’t the only agency with social media. The NSA and FBI also have Twitter accounts. And the FBI even has its own Instagram! Where it posts photos of field work … and jokes about its interns?

The only current CIA account might be a placeholder page, currently filled with random code.

Follow for follow!

Follow for follow!

Image: screenshot: rachel kraus/mashable

It actually might be important for intelligence agencies to have a presence on Instagram, not just Twitter. For one, Russian agents reportedly made a bigger use of Instagram than Facebook in its efforts to manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But definitely more importantly, if agencies don’t claim their handles, all that represents them on a platform of over 1 billion users are parody meme accounts, like this one named “theliteralnsa.”

“One of the most unique challenges we face at this point in history is the rate of technological change,” Haspel said earlier in her remarks. “We’re endeavoring at CIA, and the other U.S. intelligence agencies, to stay abreast of those changes, and to remain on the cutting edge.”

Well guys, a ‘gram is a good start! Because — watch out, meme lords — the official CIA instagram account is clearly where the agency will be conducting all of its intelligence from now on.

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