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.
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.
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.