Instagram bug lets you see someone else's personal notifications if you both share a second account [Update: It's back]

Update Feb. 20: Instagram has told us that this has been fixed. But we're now all getting updates whenever someone pings GoogleTheMastiff, our own Mark Guim is logged into along with the Android Central Instagram account.

Original story: We're now a week into having Instagram's new feature allowing management of multiple accounts in one app. But it seems as though there are still a few issues in need of some work. As it turns out, a pretty nasty bug has worked its way into the notification system that reveals your personal notifications — including Instagram Direct messages — to unauthorized people.

Here's the situation. If two (or more) people are managing a single Instagram account in addition to their own personal account on a device, then each of the people who manage the shared account can receive notifications from everyone else's personal (i.e. non-shared) accounts for a period of time. The screenshots below show the bug in action, as evidenced by Phil, Alex and myself.

For example: Person 1 has accounts A and B on their phone, and person 2 has accounts B and C on their phone (so B is a shared account, and A and C are personal accounts). Person 1 will now receive notifications from account C, and person 2 will receive notifications from account A. That's ... not a good thing.

The push notifications arrive in accordance with the notification settings that the original account holder set up, and the notifications don't often lead to anything when tapped — you're simply taken into the Instagram app to your own account, or to the post if it was a mention on another public account. Either way, the notifications still reveal quite a bit of information, such as names of the people interacting with the account's photos, and even a snippet of what they commented. This also includes the words associated with an Instagram Direct message (but not the image). Interestingly, it seems that the notification cross-talk isn't consistent — for some of us it stopped after just a day with a shared account.

Still, this seems like a pretty big oversight by Instagram. The fact that two (or more) people are managing an account shouldn't inherently give access to notifications from the other managers' personal accounts, and it points to mismanagement of supposedly private information. How quickly this could be fixed remains to be seen. After reaching out to Instagram for comment, we were informed that it is aware of this issue and is working on a fix. But for now, the notifications are still coming through to the wrong accounts.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.