Last week, Instagram decided to become Snapchat by adding Stories, a feature that lets users post photos and videos that only last for 24 hours. Only, this is the internet, so everything lasts forever, whether you want it to or not.
Developer Alec Garcia made a Google Chrome extension that, as you’d expect, lets you view and download Stories from the web browser. Want to save everyone’s awful photos for posterity, or just want to Insta-creep from your laptop? Well, now you can.
Garcia outlines the technical process of how he was able to build the extension on Medium. It’s not really a hack — he reverse-engineered the Instagram API, which allows third-party apps to view Stories with a little work.
The extension also reveals a very real security problem for Instagram: the actual photos and videos in Stories aren’t deleted from Instagram’s servers after 24 hours; the app just makes them no longer visible. But if you’ve kept the URL of a photo, you can share it seemingly forever.
This seems like the kind of security flaw Instagram will be trying to patch as we speak, so if you want to collect dirt on your frenemies, better act fast.
For everyone else on the internet, this is really just an opportunity to remember that nothing, no matter what the app promises you, is really temporary on the internet.