You take a picture or a video. You send it to a friend. Within a designated amount of time that photograph will be permanently deleted, followed through cyberspace by a code that wipes out the picture like some kind of digital assassin.
Welcome to the World of Snapchat
That is the simple concept of Snapchat, an app that began in a Stanford University classroom and has grown into one of the most popular social networking tools among teenagers. Recognised by its ghostly logo, whimsically named Ghostface Chillah after the Wu-Tang Clan member, Snapchat has been downloaded by around 30 million people across the globe.That essentially makes Snapchat more powerful than Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker put together – and let’s face it, that’s pretty damn powerful.
The app has been plagued by controversy though, and rightfully so. From encouraging illicit behaviour in its users to failing to safeguard customers’ personal details like names and contact numbers Snapchat is perhaps the most dangerous app available for your smartphone.
It has come under pressure from experts and journalists alike who have criticised its questionable methods. So, is it time to exterminate the Ghostface Chillah? It most certainly is.
The Best Way To Sext, Basically
As Snapchat prides itself on its ability to erase videos and photos after they have been sent it is primarily being used as a ‘sexting‘ tool for people to send nude or partially nude images of themselves to their contacts. Its creators Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, who once pitched themselves as “certified bros” for getting “kicked off campus” in an e-mail to a promoter, vehemently deny this.
However, because of the app’s nature it is not difficult to imagine the number of disturbing images young girls are receiving from men twice their age. Let’s face it: it is no coincidence that their target audience are 13-23 year olds and the 40+.In the aforementioned pitch email, Spiegel allegedly replied “lucky guess” when he was asked if the app was just “the best way to sext, basically”.
But, Wait, It Doesn’t Really Delete Your Photos?
What is most worrying though is that Snapchat cannot actually delete your photos and videos. Photographer and technology enthusiast Nick Keck used a program called iFile earlier this year to discover that the images he sent on Snapchat were still saved in a file. The creators responded by saying:
“It’s sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted. So… you know… keep that in mind before putting any state secrets in your selfies. :)”
The Snapchat frat boys may have laughed off the problems (somewhere between fist pumping and hugging it out, one likes to imagine) but it is nonetheless a confirmation that the app’s users can potentially access or even share any photographs or videos you have sent them. What’s more: The hack earlier this month by the Syrian Electronic Army, who broke in and leaked around 4m usernames and contact numbers, demonstrated how weak Snapchat’s security measures are. Who knows who might get their hands on your compromising pictures.
Snapchat Can Share Your Personal Info, And You Agreed To It
Snapchat, it seems, really are about as reliable with your private details and contact numbers as an NSA app. And to think, people wondered why Google wanted to buy them.
Are you a Snapchat user? Please comment and share with your friends, family and colleagues too…..