Snapchat. Much like Instagram before it, the mobile app appeared out of nowhere, billed as “real-time picture chatting for iOS and Android”. Of course there wasn’t a Blackberry version, so Snapchat only came to my attention when my friend Aimee asked, “Have you heard about Snapchat?” No Aimee, no I have not.
Aimee gave me a quick rundown on her new addiction. “You take a picture with it, to send to someone, and you can write on it if you want. But the thing is, you choose how long they can see it for; ten seconds at the most, and then it disappears.”
I’m not going to lie; it all sounded a bit pointless to me. Why not just send a normal picture? Why the need for it to disappear? Wouldn’t you rather keep it? I just didn’t get it and assumed that the rest of the Western world wouldn’t either. “It’ll never take off,” I thought quietly to myself, returning to my dessert, which Aimee had just sent a 3-second Snap of to our absent friend with the caption “Wish you were here!”
A few weeks later and the statuses started showing up on Facebook. “Add me on Snapchat _____”. Hmmm, so more people were using it, more people were talking about it, and more people were complaining about (but secretly loving) how many inappropriate pictures they were being sent on it. “Aha,” I thought to myself. “So THAT’S what it was really designed for.”
We’re always being warned about the dangers of sending naughty photos to ones significant other or, more casually, that person you met in a club last weekend and have had an ongoing text flirtation with ever since. However, Snapchat’s timer facility means you could literally blink-and-miss a little six-pack shot (I’m trying to keep things clean here), and that, more importantly, the receiver couldn’t turn nasty and share it with the entire World Wide Web.
But, unfortunately for the lover of a Taio Cruz-meets-Ke$ha Dirty Picture, or for those who just like to send ugly selfies, Snapchat has a screenshot facility. If you’re really quick you can in fact save any Snap that’s been sent to you. The sender of the Snap will be sent a notification that you’ve done it, but really, what good is that?
There has been more Snapchat controversy in recent weeks, suggesting that pictures aren’t fully deleted from the receiver’s phone, and that they could be recovered.
Snapchat responded to the claims, explaining that files sent via the app were deleted in “the normal way that things are usually deleted on computers and phones”, but “with the right forensic tools, it’s sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted”.
So the lesson is kids, think before you Snap. Duck faces, what you had for dinner, Rihanna in concert: good. Butts and boobies: not so good. Snap sensibly – you have been warned.