A little over a year ago, I blogged about Snapchat, a temporary and private photo sharing service that was getting a lot of attention. Well, Snapchat is back in the spotlight again. From competitor apps that work against the service, permanently saving the supposedly private and temporary images, to significant security hacks, this app could be a world of trouble for teens and young children. Opening the door once again to the question: Who is responsible for educating students about responsible online behavior? While we may not all be able to answer the question yet, I do think the first thing we can do is educate ourselves on the tools our students are using.
Gone in a Snap? Back in a Hack!
“Save your snapchats to your camera roll without the sender knowing and view them as many times as you like for as long as you like! No more 5 second glimpses.”
Savvy users have always been able to do a quick screenshot of the snap, but Snapchat would send a notification to the sender alerting them of the “inappropriate” action. However, this new app uses Snapchat logins and saves every Snap to the camera roll without notifying the sender.
The trick is to not open the Snaps in Snapchat, but instead use DAP Logic’s Snap-Hack (two versions available, Pro for 1.00 and LITE for FREE). Snap-hack, launched in October 2013, has always worked with photos and videos, but now with their latest update on January 3 (for both iPhone and Android), Snap-Hack also works with Snapchat Stories.
Released on October 3, Snapchat Stories allows users to combine their Snaps into an-ever changing narrative that “never ends and it’s always changing.” Each Snap lives for 24 hours before being erased to make room for the newest Snaps, which are automatically pulled and added to the “story.”
Snap-Hack adds a disclaimer on their iTunes page: NOTE: Once you have viewed a snap in the official Snapchat app, it is deleted forever, so be sure to open them in Snap-Hack first.
4.6 million Security Issues
Snapchat is experiencing some difficulties, most recently, the website SnapchatDB.info (which is still live as of January 6, 2014) released the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million US Snapchat users. According to an article on Forbes.com, Snapchat was alerted to a vulnerability by an Australian security outfit four months in advance of the release.
I’m curious to see what Snapchat does next, especially after confirmations back in December that they have raised $50 million in new venture capital funding. You can read stories about the funding on CNN and Forbes.
The ethical dilemma behind Snapchat has always bothered me by removing the user’s responsibility for what they sent. Why provide outlets that encourage teens and children (and adults) to make poor decisions when using social media, with no repercussions? Snapchat as an avenue for cyber-bullying was the first red flag that appeared in my mind.
Snap-Hack, in a way, brings an element of responsibility back to the table, a plus in my mind. But, it also puts users at risk for having their poor decisions come back to haunt them. While victims of cyber-bullying can now have proof of what bullies have sent to them, the well-intended yet inappropriate sexting-style Snaps can also be saved and distributed. And the ultimate question still exists: whose responsibility is it to educate students about the risks of using such applications?