Seems like the creators of Snapchat have had a change of heart recently. And perhaps this change was not so much out of the kindness of their hearts, but in reality a “mea culpa” due to FTC charges that Snapchat delivered false promises of forever-disappearing photos. So what does this mean to the many tweens and teens who use Snapchat? Everything shared online, has the potential to stay online, despite claims to the contrary.
On May 8, Snapchat settled an FTC charge that it deceived consumers. Snapchat promised that “your snaps will disappear completely and forever once they are viewed” but in fact, there were many ways in which photos and videos could be saved. These methods included third-party apps that could be used to retrieve the images, and the ability for someone to take a screen capture of the image before it magically disappeared.
(Indeed, it is not difficult to find Snapchat “selfies” and shared snaps all over the Internet.)
Snapchat did add the ability to notify a sender if their image was captured in a screenshot. However, the FTC claim also mentions that “any recipient with an Apple device that has an operating system pre-dating iOS 7 can use a simple method to evade the app’s screenshot detection”. There are even a number of third-party apps and techniques that can override this notification. Which I won’t mention here. They are easy enough to find on Google.
Snapchat adds Text and video Chat feature
Snapchat has added text and video chat to their service. Friends can reply to your snap with an instant message. If you and your friend are online and have Snapchat open at the same time, you can also do a video chat within the app.
Snapchat’s introduction to chat: http://blog.snapchat.com/post/84407744185
Images and text still disappear after viewing UNLESS you take action within the app (tapping the text on the screen will save it, and the text changes to a different font).
There are some limited Snapchat privacy settings where you can specify who you will allow to send you snaps. Choose “My Friends” to limit unwanted messages and photos from people you don’t know:
Another feature added to Snapchat is called Stories, which is a way to send a series of related snaps to one or more Snapchat friends. Rather than the original disappearing messages that Snapchat became known for, stories will remain available for 24 hours.
There are some limited controls in place in regard to stories – you can specify who can view your stories – either Everyone, My Friends or Custom (to remove that ability for some friends). The “My Friends” setting is recommended, at a minimum. Use Custom to limit even more.
So it seems that with the addition of text and video chatting, and the “revelation” that images did not always disappear, Snapchat may be evolving into yet another messaging app. There are so many different apps that teens are using to share photos and videos, and communicate with text and video chats. The main difference with Snapchat is that posts are deleted by default; you have to take specific action to save them. In most other messaging apps and services, content is permanent and you have to take initiative to remove it. (Although this might be changing with iMessage in the upcoming iOS8 – more on that soon!)
Important to remember – it’s not so much the technology being used that is an issue; it’s the behavior that the technology enables. Most teens using Snapchat are likely sending silly pictures with doodles on them. And they’re doing similar activities within other apps, such as Instagram and Keek. To me the main concerns are frequency, content (a smiling selfie vs. a naked body) and audience. Discuss with your kids how often they text, what they’re sending and seeing, and who they are sharing with.
Other Snapchat articles on Be Web Smart:
Around the web:
- What Is Snapchat and Why Do Kids Love It and Parents Fear It?
- Snapchat Guide for parents (PDF from Snapchat, May 2014)
- How to use Snapchat’s Instant messaging and Video feature