Contact Info for Millions of Instagram Influencers, Celebrities, and Brand Accounts Leaked Online

A database that contained contact information for millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities, and brand accounts was recently leaked online, reports TechCrunch.

The database, which was hosted by Amazon Web Services and contains more than 49 million records, was accessible without a password or other credentials according to the security researcher who informed TechCrunch about the leak.

Records include public data pulled from Instagram, such as profile picture, biography, and follower numbers, but also private contact information like phone numbers and email addresses.

Records also calculated the "worth" of each account based on follower count, engagement, reach, likes, and shares.

The database was initially uploaded and shared by Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, a company that pays Instagram influencers to share sponsored content. Though uploaded by Chtrbox, the database includes info from influencers who have never worked with the company.
TechCrunch found several high-profile influencers in the exposed database, including prominent food bloggers, celebrities and other social media influencers.

We contacted several people at random whose information was found in the database and provided them their phone numbers. Two of the people responded and confirmed their email address and phone number found in the database was used to set up their Instagram accounts. Neither had any involvement with Chtrbox, they said.
After hearing from TechCrunch, Chtrbox took the database offline, but the company's CEO did not respond to a request for comment on how the data was obtained.

Instagram parent company Facebook said that it was looking into the issue and aiming to determine whether the data was from Instagram or other sources. "We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available," said Facebook.


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Instagram to Scrap Standalone ‘Direct’ Messaging App

Direct for Instagram, the companion direct messaging app for the photo-sharing social media platform, is being killed off by Instagram in the next few weeks.


First spotted by social media commentator Matt Navarra, this news was delivered to users of Direct for Instagram via an in-app notification, which informed them that the standalone app is "going away" and that their conversations would be transferred to Instagram proper.
In the coming month, we'll no longer be supporting the Direct app. Your conversations will automatically move over to Instagram, so you don't need to do anything.

Direct was released in December 2017 as a Snapchat-style app with a camera-first focus, allowing Instagram users to message friends with "fun" photos, videos, and boomerangs. Users who installed Direct had their DM inbox removed from the regular Instagram app to encourage them to use the break-out app for all messaging on the social platform.

"We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that," the Facebook-owned company said at the time. "To make it easier and more fun for people to connect in this way, we are beginning to test Direct – a camera-first app that connects seamlessly back to Instagram."

Direct was initially rolled out to Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay, but Instagram never gave the app a global release, which is perhaps testament to the fact that the idea never really took off.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram will continue developing Direct features but within its main app. These new features, which have appeared variously in testing, include encryption in direct messaging, the ability to watch videos with other people, and a web version of the direct messaging feature.


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Facebook Co-Founder Calls For ‘Break Up’ of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward the idea to reverse certain tech mergers to promote healthy competition in the market, particularly including Facebook and Instagram. In an op-ed shared today by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, that topic is revisited (via The New York Times).


According to Hughes, the Federal Trade Commission's "biggest mistake" was letting Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. As the co-founder pointed out, many people left Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they didn't leave the Facebook ecosystem altogether because of Instagram and WhatsApp, with some people unaware that Facebook owned these social networks.
First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years.

How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.
In the years since its acqusitions, the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have left each company, reportedly due to clashing with Mark Zuckerberg and his management of their apps. Hughes described an informal slogan that became well-known in the Facebook offices in the wake of its launch of the "Stories" format on Instagram and Facebook: "Don't be too proud to copy."
The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.

Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal has passed, in 2019 Facebook continued to appear in headlines regarding data breaches and user privacy issues. In April alone, it was reported that Facebook's executive team used the data of its users as leverage over partner companies; two days later it emerged that Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent and used the data to build a web of their social connections.

That same day, Facebook confirmed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in plain text with no encryption. Similar stories have been shared frequently since news broke about about the Cambridge Analytica scandal just over one year ago.

Amid all of the news, Facebook today announced the launch of a new feature for Stories called "Birthday Stories." Using this ability, friends and family members can add digital birthday cards, photos, or video messages to your Birthday Story, which will be visible at the top of the Facebook iOS app like other Stories.


The feature will be available in the birthday notification that pops up when a friend is celebrating their big day. From there, you'll be able to take a photo or video, share a music sticker on the Story, and more. Once multiple people have added to the Birthday Story, the person in question will be able to browse it like any traditional Facebook or Instagram Story.

The company said that its goal with the new update was expanding on existing birthday features on Facebook, while also continuing to push interaction with Stories. It's been over two years since Facebook Stories began rolling out to users, and nearly three years since Instagram first copied the Stories format from Snapchat.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Instagram Announces New Camera Design and Create Mode, Tests Hiding Likes in Canada

Instagram today announced the upcoming addition of some new features to the social networking app, including an updated camera design and a new Create Mode, aimed at making it easier to share content without a photo or video.

The updated camera design features a wheel with selectable camera modes and effects, along with dedicated sections for live broadcasting and the new Create Mode. Instagram says the new camera update is designed to make adding effects and interactive stickers to content simpler. Instagram plans to roll out the new camera and Create Mode around the world "soon."


Instagram is also debuting a new shopping feature for finding items creators are using, and it's adding a new donation sticker that will let users raise money for nonprofit organizations.


To use this new feature, open the camera, take or upload a photo, tap the sticker icon and select the donation sticker from the tray. Choose a nonprofit to support and customize your fundraiser using creative tools. Once it's live, swipe up on your story to view the total amount raised. 100% of the money you raise on Instagram goes to the nonprofit you are supporting.
Separately, Instagram told TechCrunch that starting later this week, it will be running a test in Canada that removes the total number of likes on photos and video views in the Feed, Permalink pages, and Profile.

Instagram says this feature is being tested because it wants followers to "focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get." Only a small percentage of Canadian users will be added to the test.


The person who created the post can still open the Likers window to see the names of people who hearted their posts, but no total count is provided. It's not clear how long the test will last and if Instagram will roll this out to other regions in the future.


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Instagram Could Hide the Like Count on Photos

Instagram has considered hiding the like count on images uploaded to the social network, which would prevent people from seeing how many people have tapped the "heart" icon on each photo.

The feature was found by Jane Manchun Wong, who often hunts down features in testing in Instagram and Twitter. As depicted in an image shown by Wong, the like count on a photo is hidden by default and visible only by the person who posted the photo.


"We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shared a post will see the total number of likes it gets," reads the description of the feature.

In a statement to The Verge, however, Instagram says that the feature is not being tested at the current time: "We're not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we're always thinking about.

Hiding likes would fundamentally change the way Instagram works, as liking photos and garnering likes is one of the platform's main features.


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Instagram Launches Checkout Feature to Let Users Store Payment Info for Quick Purchases

Instagram today is rolling out a new shopping feature within its iOS and Android apps, allowing users to complete purchases without having to leave Instagram (via The Verge).

Before the update, shopping links on Instagram opened up a pop-up web window on the retailer's site, which lacked stored payment information and likely caused many people to close the window. Now, Instagram users will be able to store their payment information in Instagram to use for many purchases on the social network.


In return, Instagram is charging all retailers a selling fee, but the amount of the fee wasn't disclosed. Checkout on Instagram is starting with around 20 brands, including Nike, Dior, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, and Zara. More brands are said to be coming down the line.

Items eligible for the new feature will have a "Checkout on Instagram" button below their post. The first time that users tap this, they will be asked for a name, email, billing information, and shipping address. After the first order, the information is securely stored in Instagram.
Instagram hopes that allowing people to complete their purchases inside the app will inspire them to shop more — and to create a big new business for parent company Facebook, which has recently signaled that it expects commerce and payments to represent the future of the company.
According to Instagram, payment information stored in the app will only be used on Instagram, and not on Facebook. Instagram will also send notifications about shipment and delivery inside the app, to keep users updated on their orders.

Checkout on Instagram is rolling out in the social network's mobile apps starting today.


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Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Make Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, and WhatsApp Interoperable

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate three disparate messaging services -- Facebook Messenger, Instagram messaging, and WhatsApp -- into one "underlying messaging infrastructure" (via The New York Times).

Facebook Messenger

These services will continue to operate as their own standalone apps, but the company's work will make them interoperable with one another. This means that a Facebook user could send an encrypted message to someone who only has a WhatsApp account, and vice versa. The company is still in the early stages of the unification, with plans to be finished by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

According to sources familiar with the plans, Zuckerberg's idea is the newest effort to keep people within the Facebook ecosystem, and off of rival texting apps like iMessage.
Mr. Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, the people said, a significant step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation.

By stitching the apps’ infrastructure together, Mr. Zuckerberg wants to increase the utility of the social network, keeping its billions of users highly engaged inside its ecosystem. If people turn more regularly to Facebook-owned properties for texting, they may forgo rival messaging services, such as those from Apple and Google, said the people, who declined to be identified because the moves are confidential.
In an official statement, Facebook said it's "working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks," alluding to the upcoming change. As of now, WhatsApp is the only one of the three main Facebook messaging apps to support secure end-to-end encrypted text messages, which ensures that texts are only read by you and the person you send them to.

This also raises privacy concerns for Zuckerberg's plans, since it's unclear how an end-to-end encrypted app would integrate with apps like Facebook Messenger. To sign up for WhatsApp, only a phone number is needed, but in contrast personal identities are the central part of apps like Facebook and Instagram, including their messaging services.
Today, WhatsApp requires people to register only a phone number to sign up for the service. By contrast, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide their real identities. Matching Facebook and Instagram users to their WhatsApp handles could give pause to those who prefer keeping their use of each app compartmentalized.
In the wake of last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal, internal sources state that Zuckerberg has renewed his focus on WhatsApp and Instagram as the main Facebook brand was hit hard with negativity. In September, Bloomberg reported that Instagram was expected to soon become "more tightly integrated" with Facebook, in the wake of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger leaving Facebook.

WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have also left Facebook for similar reasons. According to today's reports, employees are still clashing with Zuckerberg over the new shift in focus to WhatsApp and Instagram, with dozens of WhatsApp employees arguing with Zuckerberg over the upcoming messaging integration plan on internal message boards, as well as during a "contentious" staff meeting last month.

During this meeting, WhatsApp employees reportedly asked Zuckerberg why he was so focused on making the messaging services integration a priority for 2019. According to sources, his responses were "vague" and "meandering," and as a result several WhatsApp employees have left and more are planning to leave because of the plan.


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Instagram Denies Limiting the Reach of User Posts

Instagram has moved to address rumors that it actively suppresses the reach of user posts on the social network.

In a statement posted on its official Twitter account, Instagram said that it has not made any recent changes to the way its feed algorithms work and that "we never hide posts from people you're following - if you keep scrolling, you will see them all."

Instagram explained that the order of posts in a feed is determined by the level of user interaction – in other words, like its parent network Facebook, posts on Instagram are organized by potential level of engagement rather than in chronological order.


Instagram adopted Facebook's algorithmic feed way back in June 2016. A study by Instagram itself found that before the algorithm was introduced, on average, users missed 70 percent of the posts on their feeds and 50 percent of the posts from their friends.

After the algorithm though, Instagram's users see 90 percent of their friends' posts. Given those figures, recent rumors that the platform have been limiting the reach of posts could just well be the result of some users not scrolling down far enough.


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Netflix Debuts New Integration for Sharing Movies and TV Shows in Instagram Stories

Netflix today launched a new Instagram integration that's designed to allow Instagram users to share their favorite movies and TV shows in Stories, reports Variety.

The feature can be used by selecting a title of choice within the Netflix app for iOS devices, tapping on the "Share" icon, and then selecting "Instagram Stories" as an option.

"We're always on the lookout for ways to make it easier for members to share the Netflix titles they're obsessing about and help them discover something new to watch," said a Netflix spokesperson. "We hope our members enjoy this new feature!"
From there, Netflix opens up Instagram with a screen featuring the show's name and artwork, with an option to share it to Stories or send it to close friends.

Instagram has been allowing third-party apps to integrate with Stories since May 2018, and other integrations include Spotify and SoundCloud.


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Instagram Now Lets Users Post to Multiple Accounts Simultaneously

Instagram is rolling out a new feature that allows posting content to multiple accounts at the same time. The social network confirmed to TechCrunch that the feature is now rolling out to all users of its iOS app:

An Instagram spokesperson confirms this option is becoming available to all iOS users, telling TechCrunch, "We are rolling out this feature to provide a better experience for people who often post to multiple accounts."
The ability to select which accounts to simultaneously publish the same post to is being made possible through the use of simple toggles that appear when the New Post option is selected.

The new feature is likely to be welcomed by users who have multiple accounts for whatever reason (to separate content, for instance) but it's sure be a hit with marketing companies who manage various social accounts.

Whether users will be able to publish Stories to multiple accounts simultaneously is yet to be confirmed.


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