Like about a billion other people, 17-year-old Samantha Mosley spent her Saturday afternoon perusing Instagram.
She was taking a glance at the Explore tab, a feature on Instagram that shows you posts tailored for your interests based on algorithms that track your online activities and target posts to your feed.
But unlike many of Instagram’s users, Mosley and her high school friends in Maryland had figured out a way to fool tracking by the Facebook-owned social network. On the first visit, her Explore tab showed images of Kobe Bryant. Then on a refresh, cooking guides, and after another refresh, animals.
“I’ve never looked at animals on this account,” Mosley mentioned in Washington, DC. At the hacker conference Shmoocon, along with her father, Russell Mosley, she’d just given a presentation on how teens were keeping their accounts private from Instagram.