Snapchat’s privacy policy: Read it and weep

Snapchat’s privacy (or lack thereof)

Snapchat’s privacy policy sucks. As a loyal user, you are likely not even aware of how little your photos and videos are protected by this “trusted” service. Anyone who has truly read the company’s privacy policy (and is in their right mind) never would have signed up in the first place! Now is your chance to revisit their freshly updated, easy to read policy.

In an age of instant gratification and impatience, especially when signing up up for a new service or app, there’s no time to read all the terms and conditions we claim we have agreed to. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the negligence users have when ticking off the ‘I accept’ and ‘I have read’ boxes. It is for this reason that privacy policies are becoming more user-friendly and easy to read, the approach recently taken up by Snap Inc.

Snapchat’s policies have evolved over the years, but it is important to see where it all began. In 2015, their terms of service stated that by using the app,

“you grant Snapchat a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods” — Secure Market Watch

The company began by convincing consumers that Snapchat operated on a delete-everything basis, which earned interest and trust from users. As the years slip by and the privacy policy is updated, we are able to see just what it costs to share our photos with our friends and family.

Snapchat faced investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in 2017 for not having upheld their promise of privacy and security. A few examples can be found in an article written by Information Week, which highlights troublesome scenarios wherein personal privacy is compromised.

First, despite Snapchat’s promise that photos and videos would be deleted upon viewing, or that senders would be notified of a ‘Screenshot’ taken, apps were built to save pictures and videos without the sender’s knowledge. Second, contradictory to their privacy policy, Snapchat stored location-based information from Wi-Fi and cell connection for analytic purposes. Third, Snapchat collected all iOS contact list information, unknown to the user, if a phone number was provided in the app.

The aforementioned data, as well as all photos and videos, are stored on the Snapchat servers. Don’t be fooled. Should there ever be a hack, all of that data is free for the world, and there is nothing you can do about it.

All in all, the cost of sending photos and videos with the illusion of self-destruction comes at a hefty price. Your data shared on the app is in the hands of Snap Inc. You have given full permission for them to do with it as they please. Is it worth it?

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