SnapChat is an extremely popular photo-messaging application (“app”), which allows users to send photos or videos and deletes them after 1 to 10 seconds. The idea, deleoped by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, was to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of people. Once the Snaps are sent, they are presumably gone forever, and the sender nor the recipient has to worry about them afterwards. However, like everything else on the World Wide Web, users can skate around this feature-this time by taking screen-shots. SnapChat has recently admitted that the photos take several hours to be deleted from the servers.
Additionally, some hacks use the phone’s screenshot capabilities. Once a picture is sent to a contact, then that person can keep a screenshot of the image before it self-destructs. Then the contact has full control of the picture and can send it to anyone. The person who sent it will have no idea that the picture still exists. Recently, hackers have recently targeted SnapChat and it vulnerabilities. In one case, details of over a four million users were leaked to prove that it was possible to hack. In another, photos of smoothies were shared to all SnapChat followers without the user getting to know about it.
Some youth use SnapChat for sexting and sending suggestive or nude pictures to their peers. However, such images of children are illegal and minors can be charged distribution and possession of child pornography.
Like all the other murky corners of the Internet, SnapChat is also used for cypberbullying. A photo can be sent and after a few seconds, all evidence of the action is lost. Unfortunately, most victims forget to take screen-shots in the heat of the moment and this is another point that reduces the risk of being caught. Embarrassing photos, or photos comparing the victim to a derogatory item are the most common methods. For example, a photo of a classmate alongside a picture of a horse with large teeth could be sent to all the people in the school and my trigger more intense bullying toward the student. Moreover, threatening photos like those posing with weapons, can also be sent by bullies and succeed in silencing the victim.
What can parents do?
Children need to know early on that this is a problem, and that they will have to face consequences at some point. In fact, research shows that sexting has become a big problem among teens. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project as many as fifteen percent of teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen say that they have received a “sext” from someone they know. Meanwhile, 4 percent of those teens indicate that they also have participated in sexting by sending nude or nearly nude images of themselves to someone else via text message. Another study found that twenty-eight percent of fourteen to nineteen-year-olds said they had sent a nude picture of themselves through text or e-mail.
The need for educating children is dire. Be sure that kids know that once something is sent or posted, they have no control over where it goes or what happens to it, This is the internet, and so everything leaves a digital footprint and there is nothing as’ disappearing content.’
For more information about how to protect yourself or someone you know click http://beyondbullies.org/safety-zone/social-media/.
Written by Ravneet Sandhu