I think with Google it allows you to hotlink them until you use a certain amount of bandwidth, at which point it turns into the grey "stop" symbol. I could see the images before, but they disappeared when I came back to the thread more recently.
I think the auth session creates a HMAC which allows access for a short while, and because of things like WiFi > 4g hand-off... the HMAC includes browser type but not IP/network... and so the link temporarily works for a short while if enough of the identifying factors are similar (also Chrome, etc).
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