Snap Chat Logo

There is a (relatively) new app that is being regarded as the next big thing – The Sidney Crosby to Wayne Gretzky, the Gillete Mach 5 to the straight blade, Facebook to Myspace. Snapchat is that next big app. Made available to the public in 2011, Snapchat has created its own path, and one for the soon to be duplicators of the innovators. But just what is snapchat?

Snapchat is an app that is unique, and commonplace at the same time. It has features of instagram, facebook, twitter, Draw Something and a ticking time bomb all in one place. In Snapchat, the user gets to take a picture, add text or basic paint in the style of MS paint and send it to their friends. The user sets a length of time that the recipient will be able to view said picture, before it vanishes from sight/the recipients phone/the world for ever. In an age where everything is documented, snapchat allows its users to share fleeting moments, and not have to worry about their whole online community to view a picture forever. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s scandalous.


Snap Chat Interface and timer

Created by two Stanford graduates, the idea came from sexting.  Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, 22 and 24, had the thought while sending explicit messages to some female aquantainces that they wished the picture would disappear after it was viewed. Thus, snapchat was born, out of the desire for a quicker, shorter lasting, one and done sexting world.

This is just asking for problems. In a hypersexualized world where explicit content has been sent and received over text messaging, facebook messaging, skype, chatroulette, omegle, facetime, email and many more methods (if there is a will, theres a way), snapchat has been tailor made for the act. It is designed for users to send a picture with the confidence that it will disappear after a 1-10 second viewing period, but one of the apps flaws has altered that.

Warning: Some viewers may find content disturbing

Recipients are able to screen capture senders pictures, essentially, copy the soon to vanish picture into their phones photo gallery. The recipient then has the freedom to do whatever they wish with their captured snap chat, and the sender has little or no say by that time. A feature that blackberry and facebook are using is also used by snapchat, where the sender is able to see when and if the recipient has received or opened the picture message. If the recipient screen captured the image, a notification lets the sender know, but there is nothing they can do technically after that to stop it. When the picture is sent, it is out of the users hands.

A few incidents have already made the headlines. High School students in a New Jerseyschool could face charges for child pornography after uploading a screen captured explicit picture from a classmate to instagram. The captured snap chat was seen by students from grade 6 to grade 12, and parents had to be informed of what their children were up to. Police promised to not arrest those who deleted the picture, but those who kept it would be pursued by the law.

A few tumblr blogs have originated from this (WARNING NSFW). They take screen captured snapchats of explicit images and publish them to their blog, and also ask readers to send in their own shots willingly, which they oblige to. The pictures range from no-nudity to full on pornographic content, and from anonymous body parts to full self portraits, faces included.

The demographic of the app is young, and not all are bad. This app is popular because it isn’t facebook or twitter. It offers the opportunity to share something funny with friends that isn’t dressed up – a silly face, an interesting sight, an embarrassing wardrobe – for a laugh. But, as the designers were originally looking for, snapchat has become the most popular form of sexting used today. Users feel safe, although it is a misguided feeling, behind the premise that the picture vanishes within the time that they set pictures for.

The creators have not commented on the sexual nature of their app explicitly, but they did post their thoughts on what snap chat could be – “We believe in sharing authentic moments with friends,” it read. “It’s not all about fancy vacations, sushi dinners, or beautiful sunsets. Sometimes it’s an inside joke, a silly face, or greetings from a pet fish.”

It will be up to the developers to alter their application, to either make snap chat “safer” to send messages without fear of recipients capturing, or to accept it for what it is – a sexting app with all the risks that usually accompany such actions. Users beware, when not wearing underwear.

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Mashups – a musical, wonderful, legal mess.

Music – I love music. Every bit of it. The rise, the fall, the good, the bad, the hard, the soft, the classics, the futuristic groundbreaking sounds that “those darn kids listen to.” I just can’t get enough. If only there was a way to listen to music, while I listen to music.

But wait! What’s that?! There is?! Of course. Let me introduce you into the wonderful world of mashups, where you take some of genre x, toss in y, add in a vocal track from d, and voila! A masterpiece! From heavy metal, to easy listening, to dance tracks, there is a mashup of every genre. Some awful, some beautiful, and many suprising, like this one from gangster rapper Notorious B.I.G and blind Italian tenor Andre Bocelli. 

who would have pictured those two together? In real life, these two (if Biggie was still with us) would never have met, let alone colaborate on a piece of music. But that is what mashups have granted us, a new world where literally everything is possible. I have even made my own mashup of sorts – an instrumental track by Awolnation synced with one of the most inspirational speeches ever, by Charlie Chaplin 

Mashups have opened the world to infinite possibilities of new songs from old songs, and music will never be the same. But with that, it has also brought about some problems.

A musicians song is his art. A DJ’s track is his painting. A mashup artists collaboration is his masterpiece. As a student, my work, be it in essays, assignments, online discussions or blogs such as this one, is my art. Being a student in a university, my art is subject to rules on plagiarism. When I submit this blog to, there will be a certain percentage of my work that may seem to be plagiarized. If it is 100%, or even 50%, i’m sure that the repercussions would not be very favorable. My work is my work, and if I use someone else’s I’ve cheated the system, someone else, and myself. But what of mashup artists? There work is someone else, but together in a certain arrangement. All sounds in their piece have been taken from another artist, manipulated and produced under another name. Mashup artists like The White Panda, Super Mash Bros and Mashup Germany are all well known and sample from many different artists to create their excellent tracks. Listen to this track by Girl Talk called “What It’s All About,”

 and at the same time, look at this inforgraphic breaking down the 35 samples in 255 seconds on this track

Is this cheating? A form of piracy? What are the repercussions if any? What has been done and is being done to stop these practice, or to seek compensation for the artists whose work is being used to make someone else famous? That is a topic that I would like to explore and discuss.

What mashup artists are doing is a form of music piracy. That is, they are copying and distributing pieces of music that the recording artist or record company did not give consent too. This is not only copyright infringement, but also a civil offense. Upon some research, I could not find a single clear legal guideline on mashups, but I did find some interesting opinions and on ideas why this might be so.

Mashups are seen as a form of “fair use,” where there is a limitation and exception to copyright rules. This may be better understood if compared to the 1st amendment, free speech. A mashup is just a creative expression, a voice of an artist. Many artists also embrace mashups – sometimes, the remixes become much more popular than the original version, and give the artist some free publicity and interest into their work.

Another interesting take on this, is that record companies are wary of going after any mashup-artists, because they would be an instant hero for all copy right reformists, other mashup artists and fans. Many lawers would be lining up at their door to defend him for the publicity of such a high profile event. Mashups are an internet creation, and most of those in the web would give much support and interest into the case.

One legal option that has been created is a company called Legitmix. What it does is offers a way for you to pay for the work in a mashup, which is weighted to the amount of play time. If, for example you were to buy Girl Talk’s ‘What it’s All About,’ you would purchase all 35 tracks for roughly the price of it off of itunes. Here is a video given a short yet substantial explanation.

Websites like break down the tracks in mashups, so listeners can find who’s piece plays at what time.

Mashups have been around for a while now, but the popularity and avaialabilty of them are at an all time high. The legality of them is still evolving and trying to catch up, with record companies being careful not to step on their own feet, and turn their own artists into public enemies for going after those who sample their songs. It may seem like some artists, like David Bowie have adopted an “if you can’t beat them, join them.” In a contest for his fans, he was looking for the best mashup of two of his songs. The winner got an Audi, and Bowie got the rights to the song. This is an ongoing process, and one that may never be fully solved.

Mashups – a musical, wonderful, legal mess.

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Is Facebook Sharing Caring?

Facebook. The land of procrastination, reconnection, judgement, popularity, and interests. It is also home to many friends from high school, public school, home towns, universities, across the sea, and to many more non friends – creepers, stalkers, frenemies, trollers, hackers, fake accounts, police, and future employers. Also living amongst these, your embarrassing pictures from that one drunken night where a “friend” would not put a camera away, and without hesitation, uploaded the results for the world to laugh, and for you to remember what you had blacked out. How lovely.

Let’s face it, everyone has pictures of them on Facebook that they are not too proud of. People may untag themselves, report the photo, or ask their friend to delete the embarrassing moment in time. But is it really even gone once deleted?

For a while, Facebook photos took upwards of 3 years to finally deleted off their content delivery networks (CDNs), but since last Febuary, that has changed to 30 days, or 2592000 seconds. Still a long time for something to be around that you would rather have deleted. But fear not, Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens says that

“As you know, the photos stop being shown to other users on Facebook immediately

when the photo is first deleted by the user. The 30-day window only applies to the cached images on the CDN” (Arstechnica) It seems as if Facebook is changing their deletion policy, which should please users. But this is not the only facet of privacy of photos that users should be cautious about.

One of the many functions of Facebook is the ability to share. Like “retweeting” from twitter, sharing on Facebook allows you to share a picture, link, comment or post of your own or your friends, to all the people on your friends list. The friends that see this shared item, can then share it amongst their Facebook friends, who can then share it among their friends, and so on. If a friend decides to share a picture of you, there is little you can do once it is seen by other people to stop the potential wildfire. 


One man, a John Mueller, uploaded a picture to Flikr that he photoshopped to make it look like he threw his son high up in the air .4 years later, one of his friends shared a photo onFacebook, which happened to be a photoshopped version of John’s photoshopped version of his photo, much to his surprise. I had seen both of these pictures in the past year on sites like reddit and 9gag, which share links and pictures. John tried to get Facebook todelete the picture, but he was met with an answer that told him to contact all of the other sites that this picture was going through. This photoshopped photoshopped picture is a seemingly harmless tale, but offers insight into some problems on the internet. Image

John never tried to see this picture, it was just something making the rounds. With enough shares, a picture on Facebook can play the 6 degrees of separation game, and find its way into too many peoples screens. It also shows how little control over what you upload. Considering that each week, 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook (digitalbuzzblog), there is a lot of opportunity for pictures to be seen by others, stolen, photoshopped, or saved by others. Add to that the fact that 41% of Facebook users share photos and videos that were taken by others (Source: Marketing Land). This is especially worrisome for photographers and artists who upload their work onto Facebook. Their art could be shared by a friend, stolen by a stranger, and sold as an “original piece”. The embarrassing photos that you tried to hide could end up as a popular internet meme, increasing the exposure and humiliation. Or a controversial photo could make you a scapegoat, seen and judged by everyone.

There are many privacy settings on Facebook that allows you to control your profile, but there are no setting to control someone else’s. Perhaps this may change your opinion of what is really appropriate to post on the site, considering the potentiality of millions of people viewing your photo, link, comment etc, perhaps not. But just keep this in mind, is Facebook sharing caring?


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