Posted by on March 26, 2014


Social Media Awareness - Snapchat 3Imagine having those stupid things you say written down on paper and put in a filing cabinet somewhere, or having a movie made from random parts of your life and shown to a group of kids in France?


I think many of us take comfort in the fact that some of the things we have said and done are lost in the cosmic vortex forever. It’s comforting to know that my meltdown at 3 am when my dog woke me up (because a cat pranced by the window) will never be heard or seen again  (my meltdown, not my dog. She’s fine.).


Of course, most of us make a point NOT to write these horrendous things down or take lots of pictures on a bad hair day. But it’s only a matter of time really, before a lack of good judgment thrusts us into a place of regret, and we let fly that picture that probably should have never been taken.


That is a danger of Snapchat.


Fairly new, Snapchat started out in 2011 as an app called Picaboo, but didn’t fare so well. The name was changed to Snapchat, and it was re-released. Its selling feature is its ephemeral nature. Users are able to take pictures and make videos on Snapchat, add text and drawings, and send them to specified recipients. Photos and videos are referred to as snaps. Users are able to set a time limit for how long their recipients can view the snap (1 to 10 seconds). When the time limit is up, the snap is hidden from the recipient’s device and “deleted from Snapchat’s servers.”


(Note: Users are also able to create stories which can be available to recipients for up to 24 hours. Supposedly.)


“deleted from Snapchat’s servers” – That was the originally lingo.


Snapchat has modified their assessment of “deletion” to say that images may still be recoverable. So are they gone or aren’t they? No one seems to know for sure, but judging from how things work in the technological world, there’s a good chance the funny pictures of you with your tongue up your nose are still floating through cyber space.


Although Snapchat is intended for users 13 and up (and mostly used by 18 to 34 year olds), Snapchat also offers a kid-friendly (and I use that term very loosely) version called Snapkids. With Snapkids, the user (kid) can take a picture and draw on it, but they are not able to send it to anyone. (Ahem, sure.)


Personally, I think Snapchats are funny and freeing. You can send a crazy picture of your sad face, share it with someone, and then it’s over and gone. (Or is it?) And that’s the part that gets me. You might think, what’s the big deal? And maybe for 99% of the pictures a person takes, it is no big deal. It’s that 1% where we forget what’s appropriate that can be troublesome.


I took several selfies that I was going to use in this post, but then I showed them to a trusted friend, and she steered me away from doing that.  Why? Because once it’s done, it’s done. And there might very well be a day when I don’t want to have my grumpy face available for the whole world to see. So instead I pulled other people’s pix off of Bing. I don’t know these people, but because of the cyber world, I get to be part of a moment in their lives.

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A couple other points to ponder:


  • Recipients can screenshot photos received if they do it within a certain time frame. And of course there’s nothing to prohibit a recipient from taking a picture of their device with your masterpiece on it.


  • Unopened Snapchats are not deleted.


  • If the government directs it, even Snapchat will save photos.


  • Any nude photo of a person under the age of 18 can be considered as child pornography and used as evidence to prosecute.


  • There’s a rumor going around that Snapchat was originally created as a way to encourage sexually explicit sharing.


  • One source I read said that Snapchat doesn’t delete photos, but changes the name on the photo. (yeah, that seems better.)


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