Snapchat has been allegedly collecting both content and personal information without users’ consent. Earlier this month, Snapchat settled charges set by the Federal Trade Commission.
Snapchat is a mobile application that allows users to share photos and videos on their smartphones with other users. These can be viewed for a limited amount of time before they vanish ‘forever’. Snapchat guarantees that neither the recipient’s device nor the company’s database will store any of the media shared by users, however this policy is now under question.
FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez released a statement explaining that if a company markets privacy to its consumers, it is critical for them to keep such promises.
The FTC’s mission, according to the official FTC website, is to “prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers,” and to “enhance informed consumer choice.”
“Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action,” Ramirez said.
Snapchat’s alleged misrepresentation does not come as a surprise to Palo Alto High School sophomore Charlotte Hall.
“I already figured that it’s the same as with all free social media sites like Facebook; they sell your information to make money,” Hall said. “So [the recent discovery] hasn’t really changed my outlook [on Snapchat] because I never thought it was private in the first place.”
According to Business Insider, approximately 30 million people actively use Snapchat every month. Of those monthly active users, 55 percent use Snapchat daily, amounting to a total of 16.5 million people regularly using Snapchat.
“Typically I just snapchat my close friends with random photos of myself or of an activity I’m doing,” sophomore Adele Bloch, who has sent and received a total of 76,000 snapchats, said. “Sometimes I’ll have conversations over Snapchat.”
On its blog, Snapchat attributed the privacy issues to their focus on developing the app and putting it on the market.
“While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have,” Snapchat wrote.
“I would use Snapchat as I’ve always used social media sites; assume that everyone is going to see it and post accordingly,” sophomore Jenny Xin said.