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Instagram hacked by 10-year-old, who wins $10,000 prize for finding way to delete comments

The Finnish hacker, who goes by the name Jani, isn’t old enough to actually use Instagram – but was clever enough to find a way to delete comments by anyone using the service

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 04 May 2016 09:48 BST
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An attendee takes a photo of the instagram logo during a press event at Facebook headquarters on June 20, 2013 in Menlo Park, California
An attendee takes a photo of the instagram logo during a press event at Facebook headquarters on June 20, 2013 in Menlo Park, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A 10-year-old hacker has been awarded thousands of dollars for breaking into Instagram – a service he’s too young even to sue.

The Finnish security expert found a trick that would allow anyone to delete comments that had been left by users.

The boy – named as Jani in local reports that did not reveal his second name – said that the hack allowed anyone’s comments to be deleted, “even Justin Bieber”.

The hack wins the young expert $10,000 as part of Facebook’s bug bounty programme. That hands out prizes to people who find flaws in the company’s security so that they can be found and fixed.

Jani is now the youngest ever person to win one of the prizes that Facebook gives out for hacking its products. He beats the 13-year-old who previously broke into a Facebook product.

That means that he is the only person who has ever been given the award who is technically too young to use the service. Like Facebook, Instagram’s terms ban anyone who is under-13 from being on it.

Instagram debunked

Jani and his brother are experienced at finding security problems in various piece of tech, their father told Finnish news site Iltalehti. But Jani’s Instagram hack is the pair’s biggest yet, he said.

Last year, Facebook’s bug bounty programme saw it hand out $936,000 to 210 different researchers. Hackers are given more money for problems that are deemed “high impact”, of which there was 102 last year.

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