If you think your Snapchat photos and videos really disappear after those few seconds, think again.
The mobile app’s popularity is largely driven by the fact that it auto-deletes the photo or video file just seconds after the receiver sees it, but, according to recent news, this feature has been a bit misleading; Pictures won’t disappear forever, and data is collected.
Since 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most popular and controversial social media apps on the market for iPhone and Android users. Teenagers, the largest demographic on the social app, can’t get enough of it. Investors love its $800 million value, and brands are embracing the photo-video-sharing service as a part of their social media strategy. Parents fear it, as they hear about the lawsuits and disputes over explicit photo sharing and privacy concerns, and hackers are easily having fun with it. Even with the unsavory reputation and growing amount of competitors, Snapchat was voted the Best Mobile App at the 2013 Crunchies.
But, despite its popularity, Snapchat has a few kinks to work out. For example, Snapchat began 2014 with nearly 4.6 million users falling victim to hackers. This revelation was made after a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, which accused the app service of secretly “recording user’ physical location,” (PRDaily) while their usernames and partial phone numbers were made available for download by hackers across the web. According to Forbes, a database of Snapchat user information was uploaded to the website SnapchatDB.info. The site is now down, but before the shutdown, the text on the page warned that the leaked users’ names and phone numbers could leave digital clues leading to Facebook and Twitter accounts. A more recent incident involved a hacker who sent images of fruits along with the address of a spam website to users.
Snapchatwas forced to admit to the Federal Trade Commission that images sent through the app are not exactly permanently deleted. According to The Drum:
The FTC points out that third-party apps can be used to log into the Snapchat service, and because the deletion feature only functions in the official Snapchat app, recipients can view and save snaps indefinitely.
Here’s a “snap” of what Snapchat had to say about the incident in a recent blog post:
While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community.
The FTC also claimed that Snapchat stored video snaps unencrypted on the recipient’s device in a location outside the app’s “sandbox,” meaning that the videos remained accessible to recipients who simply connected their device to a computer and accessed the video messages through the device’s file directory.
A website up by Gibson Security lets users check if their data has been leaked. If an account has been compromised, the phone number associated with the user name will appear with the last two digits omitted.
So, before you snap any scandalous pics or unflattering videos, you might want to weigh out the consequences.