SnapChat has always, in my opinion, been a controversial app. It has a very simple model, you can take pictures and photos and send them to friends and these multimedia files only are visible for a few seconds. Once the time passes, the videos or photos can no longer been seen. Teens and tweens view this app as a lot of fun. The controversy comes from the temporary natures of the media and what private information may or may not be shared. This is part of its appeal to a younger generation (yes, I’m “old” and I don’t always get it). But I worry about what type of content is shared and self-destructs. And now, SnapChat media is no longer temporarily private. A new app, SnapHack, allows you, using your SnapChat user login, to permanently save anything that is shared to you. It sort of kills the entire concept of SnapChat.
Part of me does like the temporary nature of the original model of SnapChat – it’s like sending a text or email with photos or videos to your friends or family but without the permanent nature. Or as my 14 year old explains it, using SnapChat is like having an actual conversation, once you say something, you can’t take it back.
SnapChat has a niche and definitely an audience. And like many potentially innocent social sharing services out there that are simply great, they can be abused if used incorrectly. I always advise parent to talk with their kids and find out what services they use, how they use it and why they want to use it. It’s a discussion (emphasis added) that parents really should have with their children to promote understanding and a safer social experience.
Back to the issue though – many teens and tweens use SnapChat…a lot. And the appeal is that these photos and videos disappear after a few seconds. SnapHack changes this. And it is scary. And any SnapChat user can now use the $0.99 SnapHack app and save and share these videos and photos…something that was very difficult to do previously.
When I explained this new app (SnapHack) to my 12 year old daughter (who is NOT a SnapChat user but knows about how it works and how her peers use it), her response was simple and to the point: “Oh Sh*t!”
I do wonder if SnapChat will respond quickly by changing their API or their login process to block SnapHack. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens fairly quickly. And is could suddenly become the cat & mouse game similar to what Apple does with the jailbreaking community. Time will tell.
How SnapHack Works
I wanted to test out SnapHack to see if it lives up to its claims. Long story short, it does. I was not a SnapChat user, but was able to quickly sign up. Through the text and address book verification, I did see one of my kids on there (which I knew about) and various parents that I know (like my wife and others who like being able to keep tabs on what their children are using). While I don’t condone spying on your kids (you can tell them that you are there in terms of full transparency), I do believe it is important to know how these services that they use work so that you can have an intelligent conversation with them about it.
The important thing to know about how SnapHack works is that it needs to be the first recipient of the video or picture. If you view a Snap within SnapChat first and it “expires,” SnapHack will not be able to save it for later viewing. So, you need to be sure that you open SnapHack first.
Anyway, I signed up for SnapChat (you need a SnapChat account to use SnapHack). Then I recorded a video so that I could send it to my own account to test:
I sent the video to my account:
I received the SnapChat notification:
Within SnapHack, I could see my video:
Since I had opened SnapHack first and captured the video (or image), I could then go into SnapChat to view the video (you can still view it as well within SnapHack):
Once I opened in SnapHack, I could go into SnapChat as well. Below is the unviewed video:
Once I viewed the video within SnapChat, the only thing that I could do was reply.
However, I could still go back into SnapHack and fully view the video there (after the expiration!):
And as part of the viewing process, there was an option to save it to my Camera Roll (scary!):
And it could be fully exported which means that it could then be easily shared or modified outside of the “self-destruction” timing built into SnapChat.
And here it is in my camera roll:
I don’t know about you, but this seems concerning. While the SnapChat features are supposedly built around security, privacy and being temporary in nature, SnapHack completely flips this around.
The good thing is, you can’t use SnapHack to go backwards in time. It can’t recapture old Snaps.
A Warning to Kids (and Parents)
The reason I’m writing this is more to warn users (kids) about this new app and the fact that SnapChats can, for now, can be saved and shared. Please think carefully about the types of things that you share. Are they personal in nature? Would you care if others who were not your originally intended recipient saw your pictures or videos? Are you sharing inappropriate content that would hurt or embarrass you if others saw it?
Please think twice if you use SnapChat. I’m not saying don’t use it. I’m not your parent. I am saying, however, to be careful what you share as it could come back to hurt you later.
Do you or your children use SnapChat? If so, it might be time to seriously think about how you use it and what is or is not appropriate. Leave a comment and let me know what you think about SnapChat, SnapHack or sharing videos or photos that you believe to be private.
HTD says: Watch out SnapChat users, your photos or videos might be being saved right now!