Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Social Media Dad: Why SnapChat is disappearing from phones in my house

Posted October 15, 2014 8:16 p.m. EDT

As of today, there are over 200,000 new photos online that were sent with the expectation that they would disappear through SnapChat, an app popular especially with teens that allowed users to post a picture or video that would quickly vanish from the site.

Obviously, they did not disappear. Most people who take a moment to think about it know that photos posted online do not magically disappear.

Here’s what happened:

  • SnapChat keeps their API, the interface that programmers use so applications can interact with each other, very tightly guarded. They don't share it with third party app makers who wish to make add on applications.
  • These developers created work around apps that lack the security features of SnapChat.
  • One such developer’s site was hacked and may be the portal through which the photos were stolen.

The leaked photo file contains a significant amount of explicit images which may fall under child pornography laws which should serve as a warning to those wanting to see what the fuss is all about. Word to the wise: Don’t be that curious. Are all the photos sexually explicit? Certainly not, but that is not really the point. The violation of privacy and security is the point.

In the end, there are several reasons why SnapChat is disappearing from my phone, and none of them have anything to do with my kids misusing it, but rather a discussion we had about why use it at all. Yes, I realize the irony that you could apply that logic to much of social media!

1. Why continue to perpetuate the deception that images and videos disappear? It is too easy to find and use a third party app that saves those images, images that ultimately are at risk. SnapHack is one such app that I have reviewed before and explained the way the technology works.

2. Much has been made about whether SnapChat was created to be a sexting app. Regardless of whether it was or was not, these conflicting stories make a statement about the integrity of the application.

I still believe the heavy majority of SnapChat users are using it responsibly, but I am not comfortable with how SnapChat will use information it is collecting about and from me. Of course, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all collecting information as well, but they do so with my knowledge and consent, rather than suggesting that my information is private.

Frankly speaking, if I want to send a photo, I have plenty of options. The options are creative, social and not attempting to convince us that what we are sharing something temporary. As for talking to your kids about SnapChat, they probably are not going to care about the above information, but you should use it to remind them that when they share digital content (words or images), they should do so with the knowledge that it is there for everyone to see, because one day, it might just be.

I mentioned a few fun photo apps. These might be worth introducing to your phone.

• Over
• Repix
• Moments
• Frontback
• Steller (iPhone only)

Brian Foreman, a Raleigh dad of two, is a social media educator. Go to his website for more information about his book "How to be Social Media Parents." He writes for Go Ask Mom.