Are you an avid user of Snapchat, that kind of person who likes bits that go poof? If you or your kids are under 25, chances are you do. The wildly popular photo-sharing app—which promises that pictures self-destruct after 10 seconds—is a clear sign that many people long for privacy. Snapchat claims to have finally delivered to us a medium that does not forever save and store our data. We want that! Of course we do.
Unfortunately, Snapchat doesn’t quite transport us to the land of data privacy. It sounds too good to be true, and it is. In much the same way that Facebook deludes people into the belief that they can actually be private, it gives us a false sense of security. Twitter makes no bones about privacy; it is, and claims to be, an open public network where you are public by default. With the likes Snapchat and Facebook—and most of social media, in fact—many mistakenly believe in the illusion of being private.
The specific problem with Snapchat, of course, is that while the photo message on Snapchat disappears from the phone of the recipient after a few seconds, it does not prevent the nimble-fingered receiver from taking a screenshot. If that happens you get an alert, but what good does that really do? It certainly doesn’t prevent the screenshot from being shared with others, as happened at this New Jersey high school. There’s another hack to work around that alert. And last but far from least, a US-based company Decipher Forensics told the Guardian that they figured out how to recover photos from the Android version of Snapchat in a matter of days. The company is now trying to recover photos from the iOS version of Snapchat. The photo-app has been downloaded more than five million times in the Android marketplace and has been at the top of the Apple app store for quite a while.