The Dirty Facts Behind Snapchat’s Privacy Statement

As a Snapchat user myself, I can assure you that when I downloaded the app back in Sixth grade, I spent zero time looking over the privacy policy and terms of agreement, and instead scrolled right to the bottom of the page to accept the terms that were “unknown” to me at the time. I bet that I’m not alone in saying this, and that most other people have done the exact same thing for Snapchat or some other social media platform they have joined. Snapchat’s privacy policy is relatively easy to understand, however, I believe its length is responsible for turning people’s attention away from it. Who wants to spend twenty minutes reading something that will probably have little to no effect on whether or not they resist from using the app? As we have discussed in class, as well as in Heidi A. McKee’s “Policy Matters Now and in the Future: Net Neutrality, Corporate Data Mining, and Government Surveillance,” privacy policies are often very difficult to understand. Heidi states, “these ‘transparent’ statements are too often anything but, so the fact that companies are required to report how they manage their networks does not seem, ultimately, that helpful for the typical consumer,” which seems very accurate having looked at a few privacy statements myself. Such language comes over as “foreign” to a typical user, but perhaps this is purposeful to prevent users from turning away from a site solely because they feel uncomfortable with the privacy agreement. After analyzing Snapchat’s terms of privacy, I imagine that I’m not alone in wishing that I had read the terms prior to downloading the app, as I find a lot of the things included in the statement to be uncomfortable as a frequent user of the app.

Most people first downloaded the app in response to the new idea that anything sent or received using it would immediately be vanished, however this is not the case. Snapchat explains in its privacy policy that any “snap” or “chat” sent or received is recorded, not only by itself, but third parties are also able to access it for their own purposes. Additionally, in cases of legal matters, Snapchat is able to present content from your activity on the app without your permission. Although this seems fair for the purpose of the Law, I feel it should be our right to decide what can and cannot be shared. It also explicitly states that they “are not responsible for how those third parties collect or use your information,” however they are the ones leaking this information to begin with so this doesn’t seem plausible. I think the thing that seems most discouraging to me is the idea that they are constantly collecting and updating information about our likes and dislikes based on our content and engagement with the app. Collecting content such as custom stickers made through the app seems like a breach of privacy to me as I feel I should be able to use the app knowing that pictures that I am taking are being used for my purpose only. Although I will more than likely keep using the app, analyzing Snapchat’s privacy statement has definitely made me more skeptical of what happens behind the scenes of the app. I find it genuinely creepy that Snapchat has access to my pictures and conversations, which I had thought for all this time were “gone”.

Below is an interview with a fellow student about her awareness of Snapchat’s privacy policy.

 

 

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