According to their findings, it seems that by browsing an Instagram profile on the web and inspecting the website’s source code, you can actually find the URL of the image that is on the account, from which you can then share it with others. This means that if you are following the private account, you can find the source code and link that image or video to others who can then see it, even if they aren’t following that account.
When BuzzFeed News reached out to Facebook (who owns Instagram), the company seemed to suggest that this wasn’t really a bug and hinted that there was really not much they could do about it. In a statement made by a Facebook spokesperson, “The behavior described here is the same as taking a screenshot of a friend’s photo on Facebook and Instagram and sharing it with other people. It doesn’t give people access to a person’s private account.”
We suppose they do have a point, but it’s something to take note of if you do have a private account.