Snapchat Spanked by FTC over “Messages Disappearing Forever” Deception

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Snapchat, the subject of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) action stemming from their claims that “snaps” would disappear forever after mere seconds – which of course wasn’t true – has settled with the FTC.

Explained FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, “If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises.”

snapchat ftc settlement


Snapchat clearly did not keep those promises.

In fact, while Snapchat led consumers to believe that once their snap was gone from the app, it was gone forever, from everywhere, the images actually persisted on the Snapchat servers. It wasn’t long before third-party apps became available that were specifically designed to log into the Snapchat servers and access the stored images.

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Snapchat Spanked by FTC over “Messages Disappearing Forever” Deception

And then, of course, a recipient could always simply take a screenshot of the snap message or image. And while Snapchat claimed that a user would be notified if the snap recipient took a screenshot, that only worked if the recipient was using an iPhone running iOS 7; any earlier iOS would not trigger the notification.

Moreover, says the FTC, “Snapchat stored video snaps unencrypted on the recipient’s device in a location outside the app’s “sandbox,” meaning that the videos remained accessible to recipients who simply connected their device to a computer and accessed the video messages through the device’s file directory.”

Snapchat also scraped iOS users’ contacts information from their address books, according to the FTC.

With the FTC having evidence of all of this, it’s not surprising that Snapchat folded and settled. While the full terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, the FTC says that Snapchat is now “prohibited from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users’ information,” and that it will be monitored for the next twenty years.

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Which is ambitious, because who here thinks that Snapchat will be around in 20 years?

Read the full FTC press release on the Snapchat settlement.

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Snapchat Spanked by FTC over “Messages Disappearing Forever” Deception

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