Instagram has confirmed that a bug is preventing proper Instagram URL previews from appearing in iMessage conversations. In a statement to Mashable, Instagram says the behavior is not normal, and that it’s “working to resolve Instagram link previews in iMessage so that they load normally.”
The lack of link previews was first brought up on Reddit around two months ago, so it seems the issue has been going on for a long time. Mashable implies that Instagram was not aware of the bug until it reached out for comment, which triggered the Facebook-owned social network to conduct an investigation.
Normally, sending an Instagram URL on iMessage generates a preview of the photo/video, alongside the account which posted it, and a snippet of the caption. Now, the bug is causing links to appear without the thumbnail preview or related information.
Thankfully, there is a logical explanation as to why this is occurring. Security research team Mysk did some digging at the behest of Mashable to backward engineer iMessage and Instagram. The team found that when iMessage attempts to fetch the metadata for the link, Instagram directs the request to its login page. Instagram’s login page doesn’t hold metadata, which includes a thumbnail of the post.
Mysk is the same security team that, earlier this month, found that Facebook and Instagram link previews could be violating EU privacy laws. Mysk believes that the preview of the link that is generated when a URL is sent in Facebook Messenger and Instagram may be infringing on multiples articles of the ePrivacy directive, which states that personal data can only be accessed by authorized personnel for legal purposes.
As a result, Facebook no longer generates link previews for EU users in Messenger and Instagram. There’s no indication, however, that the bug with iMessage is related to the reported breach of privacy law, so it certainly seems to be an issue on Instagram’s side.
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