According to the folks at Snapchat, their iPhone/Android app is all about making social media fun again. How does it accomplish this goal? By letting users send photos to each other -- then deleting those images mere seconds after they're viewed.
You might wonder why you'd bother sending a photo to someone in the first place if you wanted it to self-destruct. Well, you might have taken an unflattering photo, or you might want the freedom of knowing the image isn't going to be shared outside your conversation.
Or, you know, you might be sending out a picture of your genitalia. In theory, this would've been a great application for Anthony Weiner -- but 1) it's marketed for teens, and 2) it's not exactly bulletproof.
Basically, Snapchat lets you control how long your friend can view a message from you. You set the timer for up to ten seconds, and that's how long they'll have to view whatever it is you sent before it's deleted forever. If they try and take a screenshot, Snapchat lets you know about it.
Snapchat, which has received a 12+ rating from Apple for "Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity", has become insanely popular, with over 1 billion "snaps" as of October 29th. The company's founder has described the app as empowering self-expression, and providing freedom from having to edit your thoughts or photos:
With Snapchat, it’s a lot more about communicating how you feel, what you’re thinking and where you are right there in the moment.
Although we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted, we cannot guarantee that the message contents will be deleted in every case. For example, users may take a picture of the message contents with another imaging device or capture a screenshot of the message contents on the device screen. Consequently, we are not able to guarantee that your messaging data will be deleted in all instances. Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.
Snapchat denies that it's a sexting app, but one look at their example images and it's pretty clear what this is supposed to be used for:
You can't really fault the company for taking advantage of what's become a major trend among young people, but there's definitely a false sense of security here. Even with the deletion feature, a user can't be certain their inappropriate photo won't end up being shared publicly.
Personally, if I found this on my kid's phone, I think it would concern me enough to have a conversation or two about the golden rule of the Internet: if you don't want it to be public, don't share it. No matter what privacy controls you might think you have. Because if there's one thing you don't want coming back to haunt you, it's a PICTURE OF YOUR JUNK.
Have you heard of Snapchat before?
Images via Snapchat