An intensive new report from Business Insider today particulars how the marketing startup Hyp3r was ready to make use of Instagram loopholes to garner an incredible quantity of information about customers. Hyp3r took advantage of “a mix of configuration errors and lax oversight by Instagram” to build “detailed profiles of people’s movements and interests.”
Hyp3r describes itself as a “location-based marketing platform.” Because of this, its primary focus is on monitoring social media posts that include location information. Once it collects datasets of customers, it lets its personal customers target these customers with relevant advertisements.
In less complicated terms: Hyp3r is a marketing firm that tracks social-media posts tagged with real-world locations. It then lets its customers instantly interact with those posts through its tools and uses that knowledge to focus on social-media customers with related advertisements. Someone who visits a hotel and posts a selfie there may later be targeted with pitches from one of many hotel’s competitors, for instance.
Today’s report explains that Hyp3r used four key instruments to scrape data from Instagram customers. First, it utilized an Instagram security hole that allowed it to “zero in on particular locations” and gather all the posts made from these locations. Second, Hyp3r “systematically saved customers’ public Instagram stories,” again using that location data. Third, it “scraped public person profiles on a broad foundation, collecting data like user bios and followers, which is then mixed with the other location data.”
Lastly, Hyp3r used picture recognition software on person posts to analyze that the pictures included. The result was a database detailing a plethora of details about Instagram customers:
The result of the public data it gleaned was a sophisticated database about Instagram customers, their interests, and their actions that Hyp3r openly touted to customers as one of its key selling factors, even if Instagram’s policies have been structured so that such a thing wouldn’t be possible.