It turns out Snapchat, the so-called discreet alternative to social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, may not be so discreet, after all.
According to a new report by Motherboard, multiple employees of the Los Angeles-based company allegedly abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago, which is only coming to light now. The data that was improperly accessed included location information, phone numbers, email addresses and the user’s own saved Snaps. Snapchat employees were able to do this through an internal tool called SnapLion, which was designed to collect information for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
This latest news arrives on the heels of other social media data breaches, leading to widespread public’s misgivings around data security and tech company ethics. And while Snapchat has suffered less scrutiny than its larger rival Facebook, admissions such as this one may be equally damaging to a social platform that has championed itself as a way to give users more control of their content through the ephemeral nature of messages and content that “disappear.”Search a full background report on a person
Snapchat’s not-so private history
Founded in 2011, Snapchat’s main appeal of disappearing messages emboldened a younger generation to share photos and potentially illicit content under the assumption that these messages would self-destruct, leaving no trace behind.
That assumption turned out not to be entirely accurate. In the company’s eight-year history, numerous third-party apps, software bugs and a burgeoning Snapchat hacking scene meant that users could never be absolutely confident that their self-destructing messages were really gone forever. The company’s practices were also routinely called into question, with the Federal Trade Commission issuing a fine to Snapchat in 2014 for failing to disclose to its users that it was storing their geolocation data.
If you’re concerned about what you’re sharing or what private information may be “out there,” one action you can take is to search your own digital profile. Now may be a good time to review the social media accounts you may have opened and forgotten about. You can also monitor your data so you’re alerted if your personal information is involved in any data breach.
And keep in mind: The best way to keep your photos and other personal information from getting in the wrong hands may be not to share them at all online.