All those Snapchat selfies are floating out there somewhere in the ether, and everyone that thought their privacy was safe got played the fool. While the mobile messaging service is accepting the fact that it will be monitored by the Federal Trade Commission for the next 20 years, users can probably feel better about the fact that Snapchat will be a little more transparent about privacy-related statements in the future. With tensions already tickled though, some analysts are saying that Snapchat is not as good as Wickr.
Wickr co-founder Nico Sell is excited to potentially gain ground from Snapchat’s snafu. This less-talked-about private messaging app has a mission to “leave no trace.” This may be the golden ticket in the face of millions of Americans and internet users abroad that have a bad taste in their mouth from pervasive privacy misinformation.
It is not just Snapchat, of course. They may have bore the brunt of bad publicity in the news this week, but companies have been taking possession of user data to harness in many unknown ways. Take Facebook as the quintessential example. Although CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly stresses that user control is the cornerstone of user privacy, the default settings are oriented to make information public. User information spiders beyond control with the help of new advertising and the like. The internet and most of its platforms are not very private at all. The Snapchat headlines simply remind the public that whatever you delete never really disappears.
Wickr seems to be structured on the idea that users sending any information over the airwaves should have complete control over who gets it, how it gets there, and what happens to it when it reaches its destination. The company states on its website that Wickr messages are secured with “military-grade encryption” that protects people from having their data tracked, distributed or exploited in any way. In the wake of Snapchat privacy violations, it is not looking as good as Wickr in the sense of security.
In fact, Sell says that she is a hacker and she knows how easy it is to snatch user information. Sell is a white-hat hacker, which is defined as someone that hacks for good. She is the CEO and co-founder of a nonprofit organization called r00tz which teaches kids to hack for “good” against black-hat hackers that are considered to operate with a mission to create destruction through theft, encryption bugs and the like. Sells prides herself on the fact that Wickr is designed by professional cryptographers and that it knows absolutely nothing about its users.
This seemingly secretive messaging service may not be trendy yet in the mainstream, but it has been gaining a reputation. Wickr beat out other messaging apps like Google Hangouts and Viber in a recent rating from PC Magazine. It is not just that Wickr has airtight privacy features; it is rated simply as a better, more user-friendly messaging app.
Snapchat is not as good as Wickr in terms of its programming, if not its actual features. Snapchat has been hacked, and user phone numbers and other information were published on the web. Wickr contains all of the same fun features that Snapchat has, including photo, video and audio. Sell said in an interview with Business Insider that select local governments have even been using Wickr audio capabilities as encrypted radio to transmit messages among its employees, for free no less.
The company hopes to profit on its top 3 percent of users that make in-app purchases, while offering the service to billions of other users for free. It may take a while to catch on, and it may be a matter of opinion that Snapchat is not as good as Wickr, but the test of time will tell what the public thinks. Wickr is available for free download on both Apple and Android platforms.
By Erica Salcuni