Released in July, the Snapchat App now places in the top ten most popular free apps for the Apple iOS market and the newly released Android version places 33 on the list of top 100 free apps in the Google Play market.
Unless you’re 20-something or the parent of teenager chances are you haven’t heard of this popular picture chatting app. The concept is simple the user can snap a picture, add text to it or draw on the image, and then set a time limit (three to ten seconds) for the viewer to see the image. The concept is that the image self destructs at the end of the viewing time leaving no trace of the picture or video behind on the viewers phone.
Sound questionable? Perhaps.
With the Snapchat App quoting in the millions of app users and now processing roughly 30 million messages a day, there are claims that a large portion of this usage is for racy pictures. There are even blogs dedicated to the racy side of this app. One user on Twitter put out an open call for salacious shots and was overwhelmed by the response compiling the results into a Tumblr “Snapchat Sluts” showing off the racy photos girls willing sent him.
Though the apps founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy repudiate the questionable use of the app there is no denying the intent of the program. Conceived as a project for Spigel’s course at Stanford University, the Snapchat App was partly inspired by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unfortunate Twitter mishap in which he shared racy photos with his entire following.
All this buzz surrounding the app has brought forward numerous privacy issues with the program. Some teens are drawn to the idea of photos that disappear with no evidence left behind. But computer experts say the Snapchat App may be little more than empty promises, leaving quite a few teenagers in some compromising situations when evidence makes its way onto the Web.
After all, why wouldn’t the recipient want to keep the photos a user sent to them? The simplest ways of getting around Snapchat’s destruct function allows users to take screenshots of the image before it is cleared from the phone.
Though the Snapchat App founders claim users are warned against the potential privacy issue in their terms of service and claim the app boasts a feature notifying you when the recipient has taken a picture of the image a large number of images have still ended up back on the internet.
Snapchat boasts no plans to change the basic app programing as its garnered them so much success in such a short time. The company promotes the app as a way to “share authentic moments with friends” and claims there is little way of knowing if any of the some 30 million daily messages are racy.
Still experts say that programs who offer services like Snapchat have no way of being 100% reliable. That leaves discretion solely to the user where Snapchat creators believe it belongs.