Yes, Snapchat could be a fun way of sharing photos and videos with friends. But, at its core, it wasn't built around anything as innocent as that.
The app has been plagued with privacy issues from its launch, something that's fundamental to its appeal: that users are able to send self-deleting pictures under the guise that it's a secure way to deliver photos they may otherwise not want kept, like sexts. However, since the app's release, people have found ways to easily save photos the sender would have assumed to be deleted, and this is what ten boys from Laval, Quebec, did when they urged other teenage girls to send them nude photos through Snapchat. The boys, aged 13 to 15, now face child pornography charges for sharing the sexually explicit photos with each other and boys at two different schools. There were only discovered when a teacher caught one of the boys looking at some of the photographs on his phone. "They were asking these girls for sexually explicit pictures — sometimes with a lot of insistence," says Laval police Const. Nathalie Lorrain.
"The school teams have been implementing strategies to raise awareness and educate students on safe and responsible use of technology," said the school board's director general Stephanie Vucko. "More importantly, intimidation of any sort is not tolerated at any schools of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board."
About seven girls in all, a few of them the girlfriends of the boys, had their photographs distributed. It took about twenty investigators and "dozens" of officers to investigate the case after the boy who was initially caught confessed to what was happening. The boys were sent to court and released to their parents—they're due back in court January 20. Now they are banned from using any electronic equipment that connects to the Internet, unless they're using it for school and its supervised by an adult. Don't let Snapchat's co-founders get rich off of your digital mistakes.
As always, whenever we publish these types of posts that concern Snapchat's privacy settings, we just want to remind readers that, yes, anything you send through the app—or anywhere for that matter—can be saved by way of workarounds, some of them difficult to do, but many of them as simple as taking a photograph of the picture with another device before its deleted.
"Once the picture is sent in cyberspace, it's completely lost," Lorrain said. "You can't recuperate that, unfortunately."