A Snapchat Hack to Make Group Stories

Snapchat, in case you haven’t heard, is kind of a big deal. Crazy engagement, huge valuation, new features, all that jazz. I heard they also have many leather-bound books.

On the other hand, it’s a fun service that I really enjoy using with my friends. It’s a nice way to have a quick visual conversation, see what people are up to, and keep in touch informally.

I was talking with my roommate last weekend about Snapchat and we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have our own private group story amongst friends?”

For those non-Snapchat users, a story is a public photo/video (or series) that you post — people can view it as many times as they want, but each photo added to the story only lasts for 24 hours. It’s different than a normal snap in that it’s not in a 1 to 1 conversation, and you don’t get notifications when people post stories. People use it as a less rigorously filtered Instagram, in a way. Snaps in a story don’t spam a feed or notifications, so you can post as many snaps to your story as you want, and the eventual disappearance of stories also lowers the barrier to posting.

So this little idea would create a story that any person in a group could post to, and only the other members of the group could view. More open than a normal conversation, but not public to all of your friends.

It turns out you can technically do this by creating a new account, “adding” all the friends that you wanted to add to the group, and then posting any received snap to that account’s story. Unfortunately the first part of this process can’t be automated (Snapchat’s got a Snaptcha), but with the magic of the pysnap library, we have access to a Snapchat API, albeit a private one.

Anyways, I threw together a really high-tech, webscale solution to make it happen. This little script (based on the pysnap example) runs as a cron job on my local machine, and I now have a group story for a few friends and myself.

It adds another fun dimension to our long running group text, and I can post more stories aimed at a specific group without letting all of my friends see or splitting them into individual snaps.

Since I can’t build this into a standalone service (no automated account creation ☹), I hope Snapchat adds this to the actual product itself — I think it’d be a lot of fun. It’d also mean I could stop using a “third-party application.” ☺

Edit: a follow up post