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The photo-sharing app Snapchat, popular with youngsters for its photos which would exist briefly then “disappear forever” has admitted that the photos did not, in fact, disappear, in a settlement with the U.S. government’s FTC.
As reported by Yahoo News, the company is to be monitored for privacy for the next 20 years by independent privacy professionals. Violations could lead to fines for the company.
Time Magazine pointed out that the app’s 4.6 million users had been misled into thinking that videos sent via the app could not easily be captured – whereas they could be seen simply by plugging a smartphone into a PC. Snapchat also violated its own privacy policies by tracking geolocation information for Android users.
In a blog post, the company said, “While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community.”
Technology sites were quick to point out just how imprecise Snapchat had been about the privacy offered to its users. CNET pointed out that there were “numerous” ways to capture the supposedly “private” files.
The site wrote, “The most obvious is an easy two-button screen capture on a smartphone. The most discrete involves third-party apps that let users record onscreen behavior or log directly into the app to work around its limited privacy protections. There are also ways to dig up files in a device’s directory when the device is plugged into a computer.”
The FTC said in a statement, “Such third-party apps have been downloaded millions of times. Despite a security researcher warning the company about this possibility, the complaint alleges, Snapchat continued to misrepresent that the sender controls how long a recipient can view a snap.”
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security