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Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat Settles with FTC over Privacy Issues

Snapchat ends up settling with the FTC over privacy issues. The Boston Globe reported this year that the images being passed by the Snapchat app weren’t vanishing without a trace, as advertised.

Catching up with Taylor
Catching up with Taylor (Photo credit: ekai)

The temporal nature of its content proved extremely appealing to younger Internet users, and now it turns out that Snapchat’s content is a lot more durable than anyone wanted it to be.

There were a number of ways that content could be copied, including taking screen shots of the app.

But wait, it gets worse

According to the article, not only was the content kept, but, “ Snapchat transmitted users’ location information and collected sensitive data like address book contacts, despite its saying that it did not collect such information. The commission said the lax policies did not secure a feature called “Find Friends” that allowed security researchers to compile a database of 4.6 million user names and phone numbers during a recent security breach.”

Oops.

Remember This?

It was only 2013 when the company was offered a multi-billion dollar buyout by Facebook. They refused, thinking they could do better.

Double oops.

Going Forward

The FTC isn’t messing around. Per the article, “Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting how it maintains the confidentiality of user information. The company will also be required to start a wide-ranging privacy program, a sort of probation, and will be independently monitored for 20 years. Fines could ensue if the company violates the agreement.”

Yeah, that’s gonna stink for a while.

There are a few morals to this story, I feel.

  1. Don’t be greedy. Facebook’s paying billions of bucks! What were the owners of Snapchat holding out for? Their own country?
  2. Don’t promise stuff you can’t deliver. 
  3. Don’t assume your users are so clueless that they won’t find workarounds. Never underestimate a determined user.
  4. And, for the users, don’t assume your content is private unless you have absolute control over all security and privacy settings. And the best way to have that kind of control is, don’t put your content online if you want it to remain private.
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By Janet

I'm not much bigger than a breadbox.