The biggest hook of ephemeral messaging app Snapchat is that pictures go away forever in 10 seconds or less. However, recent developments make that entire hook meaningless.
Snapchat’s privacy statement says Snapchat is the “fastest way to share a moments with friend. You control how long your friend can view your message- simply set the timer up to ten seconds and send. They’ll have that long to view your message and then it disappears forever. We’ll let you know if they take a screenshot!” However, apps available to screenshot a snapchat without sending a notification to the sender exist, and greatly undermine Snapchat's allure.
How to Snapshot A Snapchat
There're two ways to keep a Snapchat sender's image forever. Method one: taking a screenshot with notifications. Smartphone users should be very familiar with screenshot. For example, iPhone users can just hold the Power and Home buttons to screen capture a ”snap.” Just remember to do it quick since it goes away fast. The screenshot will be saved to your photo's gallery. The only thing is that the person that sent the image will be notified that you are taking a screenshot.
However, if you don't want the other person know you have saved his/her picture, the image is still obtainable by using a third-party app to bypass Snapchat's notifications. Android users can download SnapSeeker from Google (GOOG) Play store, and iOS users' options are Snapkeep or SnapBox in the Apple (AAPL) store.
Why It's Such A Big Deal
That’s when people have to rethink Snapchat's purpose The most notable feature of the app was the self-destruction function. The beauty of ephemerality excited users because they could enjoy the feeling of sending out something explosive, but didn't have to worry about leaving a trace.
And there might be a good reason that people like to use Snapchat that is directly related to that. A research conducted in the UK showed that nearly half of 18 to 30-year-old respondents, 47 percent to be precise, have received nude pictures. According to the research, most of the pictures were described as "inappropriate poses or gestures."
However, that’s also non-sexting reason why users care so much about the privacy in Snapchat. Any picture the sender thinks won't be saved forever could be with Snapkeeper or Snapbox, undermining the whole point of Snapchat.
Privacy Violation Accusation
The company has been previously accused of not being forthcoming to consumers about how long messages are visible to other users and potential dangers to their privacy. The company was also blamed for collecting personal data from users without disclosing it, including from underage children without parental consent, which is against the law.
On May 8 Snapchat settled with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy and security claims. Under the terms of the settlement, the company will face independent monitoring for 20 years, and is prohibited from “mispresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users’ information.”
"If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises," FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.
On June 11, the company reached another settlement with the Maryland State Attorney General for its privacy violations under state law and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Under the settlement, Snapchat will pay $100,000 to the state. Snapchat also must ask for permission now before accessing contacts.
Started as a class project in Stanford University, in a very short time Snapchat transitioned into a wildly popular multi-media messaging app, especially among the young generation. First launched in July 2011, by November 2012 over one billion photos had been shared through the Snapchat iOS app, with 20 million photos being shared per day.
The company generated buzz last November by turning down Faceook Inc.'s $3 billion buyout offer. Facebook then turned to bigger company WhatsApp instead for a $19 billion acquisition. There are also sources disclosing Google tried to buy the startup for as much as $10 billion at one point as well.
The company's snub triggered some finger pointing, but Snapchat has gotten bigger indeed. According to a report from network traffic specialist Sandvine, Snapchat has successfully topped WhatsApp, and now is the biggest third-party messaging app in North America by volume.
But if its ephemerality is undone, that explosive popularity could be coming to an end.
DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer