When the photo messaging app – Snapchat – first came out in 2011, people were drawn in. Unlike most internet activities, Snapchat claimed that all photos would forever be deleted after the maximum 10 second limit of photo sharing. This differed from everything else that was done online as people were more and more paranoid about how their internet activities would impact their future. Snapchat, however, was fun and easy to use. As it now turns out, there is a dark side to Snapchat that users never knew about.
1. Snapchat photos do not actually disappear
The biggest appeal behind this photo sharing app was the idea of privacy. While the app itself in many ways seemed more prehistoric and less modern than Instagram or Facebook, the thought of having your photos disappear opened doors to many possibilities. This led to increased misuse of the app and many commonly shared photos were of indecent and sexual nature. This is the biggest and most sinister lie Sanpchat has told its users to date. The photos shared via Snapchat can be easily viewed once the time limit expires. All a person needs is a third-party app or some minimal hacking. Snapchat logs, however, still claim that no content is stored unless content has not been viewed. In which case it remains on Snapchat servers for 30 days.
2. Even users’ friends can save their photos
Those who are frequent Snapchat users probably know this one. Friends can screenshot an image, thus saving it on their own phone and further spreading it around. In late 2013, 10 boys between the ages of 13 and 15 were arrested in Canada on child pornography charges after the boys had screenshot and distributed explicit images of girls that were sent through Snapchat.
3. Snapchat is prone to privacy breaches
The best example of this was the hack on December 31, 2013 when Snapchat failed to fix a publicly disclosed security vulnerability. While Snapchat has claimed that it was safe and secure with new security features in place, the hackers had still managed to get past the system and break into the servers. Following the hack, a list of 4.6 million users became public. This list included usernames, emails and phone numbers. Snapchat lied to its users about their privacy and made a fun app into something that could leave people’s identities unprotected.
4. Snapchat did not verify phone numbers
Upon its initial release, users were able to register using a phone number. The biggest mistake Snapchat committed? It did not actually verify those numbers, and some users who expected to be sharing photos with their friends, in fact were sharing them with strangers who used a false phone number.
5. Snapchat transmit location data of its users
As if the fact that all photos can be saved is not concerning enough, Snapchat has now made it impossible to use any of the filters provided by the app unless a user allows it to track their location.
6. Snapchat stores private information about friends too
This is a concern that is self-explanatory in that “private” is meant to be private. When a user makes a conscious decision to share personal information, that personal information should not be shared with people who it was not intended for.
7. Snapchat is worth $4 billion, and has yet to pay a dime to the victims of their not-so-private app
Evan Spiegel has declined both the $3 billion dollar offer made by Facebook and the $4 billion dollar offer made by Google. With all the issues the app is facing now, it seems that the users who were victimized by Snapchat deserve something more than an apology and a promise of privacy monitoring for the next 20 years.
While apps may claim something to be true, it is impossible to know whether the privacy of its users will be protected. With the immersion into the digital world, there is increased opportunity for loss of privacy. Something that can be seen as innocent, like Snapchat in this case, may have a long list of faults and problems that are hidden away from users.
By Ivelina Kunina