The US Federal Trade Commission announced a deal with Snapchat on Thursday, validating my long-held fears. The Southern California-based service faced an FTC investigation, which alleged that the Internet firm misled users into believing media sent over their airwaves disappeared permanently.
Snapchat fronted their service of letting people send images that “disappear forever” seconds after being viewed by recipients, neglecting to inform users that there are ways people can save pictures indefinitely, according to the FTC. I knew it!
1. The obvious: all my seven-second snaps have probably lasted a lot longer.
While there is always the old screenshot trick, application developers have gone above and beyond in an effort to discreetly save those snaps. Snapchat has claimed that users are notified immediately when their recipient has taken a screenshot of a snap. Turns out that if the user is running anything predating iOS 7 on their device, they’re never going to know. I’m glad I stay updated.
2. They want to know where I am.
The application’s most recent update has a weird quirk to it: in order to enable filters for photos, the user must turn on the app’s Location Services. Previous versions of the app gave users the choice of Smart and Visual Filters. Accessing the former required enabling Location Services, while the latter could be applied without doing so. The new Snapchat has taken away that freedom, making me paranoid.
3. They tried to steal my friends.
iOS users beware: if you entered your telephone number to find friends, the creeps at Snapchat (nothing personal) collected the names and phone numbers of everyone in your address book. Imagine if someone you knew did that to you – even a friend. You’re at a party or out for coffee or in a business meeting and your buddy Greg (he’s a good guy) is just copying down all the names and numbers in your phone. DUDE. Why? In the case of Snapchat, it’s a group of people you don’t know. DUDES. Seriously, why?
4. And then they had other people pose as my friends.
Earlier on in the application’s development, the “Find Friends” feature allowed users to register with phone numbers that did not belong to them. Is it not incredibly JV (junior varsity, not joint venture) to have completely overlooked at least one-step verification on these phone numbers? Come on. The developers created a situation which allowed a security breach, the FTC said, permitting attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers, which could lead to my two favorite types of meat – spam and phishing.
5. Their story is a big fat reminder of how scary technology can be, while still being brilliant.
Unless it’s a hard drive during exam season, data doesn’t just disappear. I am aware that the four second closeup snap of my nipple, doodled to look like an old cartoon man, didn’t just disappear. I’m more comfortable with that and less okay with the Location Services issue. I guess I just think they’re out to get me.