Under pressure from the Feds, the makers of Snapchat have acknowledged that the photos sent through its app don’t really disappear from existence forever after expiring, as it had long claimed. Users often send the kind of pictures through Snapchat which require discretion, and the main selling point of the app is that once a photo is opened by the recipient, it can only be viewed for a few seconds before disappearing for good. But those who use the app as a sort of voluntary way of turning their friends into Peeping Toms have been misled. While the pictures do indeed vanish from the eyes of the recipients, they remain hiding deep within Snapchat’s servers. And that’s enough for the FTC to label them as liars.
This is the second reputational setback for Snapchat this year, with a massive user data breach months back which didn’t expose any images to the public but did make data such as user phone numbers available to hackers. But exhibitionists have continued using the app to expose themselves to targeted individuals. But this time around Snapchat is flat out admitting that its foolproof system of sharing pics with discretion is technically flawed. Will users finally head for safer waters?
Then again, when it comes to the kind of caution-to-the-wind actions that Snapchat’s user base is engaging in to begin with, perhaps the knowledge that the photos aren’t as temporary as once thought will only heighten the excitement of using the risk-reward service.