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Instagram Download Tool Exposes User Passwords

Instagram informed some users last week that their passwords may have been exposed as a result of using the “Download Your Data” tool.

The “Download Your Data” tool, which Instagram announced in April, allows users to export their profile information, photos, videos, comments and other data associated with their account. The tool prompts users to enter an email address to which a download link will be sent and their Instagram password.

The social networking service said it recently discovered that when customers used the download tool, their password may have been displayed in the URL in their web browser after the data was downloaded. The company also found that the passwords were stored on its systems as a result of the process.

Instagram says it has made changes to the tool to prevent such data leaks and it’s deleting the passwords logged by its internal systems.

While there is no evidence that the exposed passwords have been misused, the company has advised users to change their Instagram passwords as a precaution. If the same password has been set for other online services, those should be updated as well, and Instagram also recommends clearing browser histories as they may include the URL exposing the password.

Instagram’s parent company Facebook has been involved in several privacy scandals this year. The biggest incident involved British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which obtained the details of tens of millions of Facebook users.

The company later admitted that a bug causing posts meant to be private to become public hit 14 million users. Most recently, in late September, Facebook notified users of a hacker attack affecting 29 million accounts.

The company has been taking steps to make its platform more secure, but these and other incidents have had a major impact on the company’s reputation and stock.

Related: Instagram Introduces New Account Safety Features

Related: Facebook Pulls Security App From Apple Store Over Privacy

Related: Facebook's Growing Privacy Concern

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.