BuzzFeed ran a piece Monday stating that its Tech + News Working Group discovered "a shockingly simple work-around" that allows a private account user's followers to share their private pics, videos, and Story updates publicly in a matter of clicks.
The process, which a Facebook rep later said "is the same as taking a screenshot of a friend's photo on Facebook and Instagram and sharing it with other people," is (perhaps alarmingly) quite simple.
A follower of a private account is able to use basic HTML knowledge and a browser to inspect the images and videos loaded on the page. From there, the source URL (which is public) is pulled and can be shared, even with people who are not logged in and/or who don't follow the private account. BuzzFeed's report found that JPEGs and MP4 files from private feeds and stories could be "viewed, downloaded, and shared publicly" via this quick method.
Furthermore, the URLs in this work-around are said to be active for Story updates "for a couple days," even though the Story feature is designed with a 24-hour window of availability. As you might have guessed, the work-around also affects Facebook accounts.
While a Facebook rep made the aforementioned statement in which this behavior was compared to simple screenshot sharing, BuzzFeed's points out a few key differences between the two, including the fact that images or video obtained using these steps isn't able to be faked. Additionally, deleted media is being stored on Facebook's content delivery network even after a user has removed it from a profile.
Catch the full report here, preferably while pondering if any of this is even worth the perpetual existential headaches anymore.