In this technological age, it seems as though one trend gives rise to the next on an almost weekly basis. In the world of social media, Snapchat is one of the most recent and fastest growing trends to hit the Internet. More than 150 million messages are sent and received daily with the instant-messaging service, and its popularity continues to rise. Snapchat’s closest competitor is Instagram, but it’s a distant second in terms of the number of users. “Sexters” who appreciate the anonymity that the impermanence of Snapchat’s sent messages provides have flocked to it in droves.
The Disappearing Snapshot
What is the Snapchat service, exactly? The free app is used to send pictures, and short video clips that vanish within 10 seconds — it has been called “Instagram without regrets.” Clearly, this feature is geared toward that segment of the population that likes to send, shall we say, “potentially compromising” photos of themselves.
Not So Safe After All
While the Snapchat service was created with intentions of privacy, it turns out the evaporating photo feature isn’t an ironclad guarantee of anonymity. There are ways to outwit the Snapchat self-destruct feature. Recipients who are fast and just a bit tech savvy are able to take a screenshot and save a copy of the image before it disappears.
Snapchat does claim to have controls in place that can sense when this has happened and promises to alert the user with a notification when it detects this sort of “illegal” activity. However, the latest version of Apple iOS can actually disable this function. Regardless, any technically proficient Snapchatter can potentially overcome the apps attempts at monitoring screenshot capture via their mobile device through a process known as “rooting” on an Android phone or “jailbreaking” on an iPhone. Needless to say, these revelations are downright horrifying to many overzealous Snapchat users.
Snapchat’s Past and Pending
Snapchat was created by a student/entrepreneur and already has millions of users, most of them fairly young. Funding by Benchmark Capitol means the Snapchat app is set to keep growing rapidly as a medium that connects users for a fleeting moment. The www.internetserviceproviders.com website estimates that 150 million picture texts that were sent this quarter is three times more than what were sent in the last quarter. Yet concerns about Snapchat not being able to deliver on its promises of “safe sexting” have made some users a bit shy about using it.
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Of course, using Snapchat for less incriminating purposes is still an option, and for this reason Snapchat could still enjoy continued success. Young people are fond of using the app for sending what they call “ugly photos,” i.e. photos of themselves making strange, hilarious or downright “ugly” faces to give their friends a quick, spontaneous laugh. While the hope is that the photo will disappear without a trace so that no one but the recipient ever sees it, it isn’t necessarily a tragedy if that type of photo leaks out. For now, if you’re using Snapchat to send anything more risquè than that, consider yourself warned.
Image by Tama Leaver pursuant to the terms of his Creative Commons license.