Move over Instagram, there’s another popular app that’s been quickly sweeping up mobile users who’ve been looking for a quick and simple way to interact with their friends. It’s called Snapchat, and it's all the rage these days amongst kids with smartphones. Typical!
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a mobile app you can download to your iPhone or Android smartphone, which you can then use to “chat” with friends through photos, videos and captions. You can sort of think of it to be like texting with pictures or videos.
One of the most unique things about Snapchat is the “self-destructing” feature for photos a few seconds after photos have been viewed. When you chat with a friend by sending them a photo, the photo is instantly deleted seconds after it’s been opened by the recipient.
Snapchat Trend: Teens & Sexting
The heaviest Snapchat users are teenagers and young adults who submerge themselves in social media and are pretty addicted to their smartphones. Because Snapchat photos self-destruct automatically, a big trend has emerged: sexting via Snapchat.
Kids are basically taking provocative photos of themselves and sending to their friends/boyfriends/girlfriends using Snapchat, and they feel more liberal about doing it because they know that those photos get deleted after a few seconds.
Saving Snapchat Screenshots & Its Known Security Flaw
The general rule of Internet sharing goes something like this: if you put it on the web, it will be there forever – even if you delete it later. It’s reassuring to know that Snapchat content is automatically deleted soon after it’s been viewed, but there are still ways to capture that content and save it… forever.
According to the FAQ section on the Snapchat website, users are notified if any of their recipients try to take a screenshot of any of your Snapchats. Screenshots can indeed be captured if a user does it quickly, and the sends is always notified about it right away.
In late December of 2012, a security flaw was brought to our attention. BuzzFeed actually published a full tutorial on how you can save and upload all the Snapchats (or content from rival clone Facebook Poke) straight to your computer. Both Snapchat and Facebook released statements saying that they were working on addressing the security issue.
Snapchat’s Clone: Facebook Poke
In late 2012, Facebook announced that it was coming out with an app to compete with Snapchat. The Facebook Poke app was released, closely resembling almost everything about Snapchat.
A lot of eyebrows were raised shortly after Facebook Poke was released. Many criticized the social networking giant for creating a complete copy of such a successful app and raised questions about potential problems in Facebook’s product development area. Two weeks after Facebook Poke launched, it never broke into the top 100 apps on iTunes – while Snapchat remained took the fourth top spot.
Facebook Poke is failing to match Snapchat in terms of capturing a strong user base. Maybe Zuckerberg should have stuck to its retro “poke” function we all used to have fun with on our Facebook profiles back in 2007.
Getting Started with Snapchat
The app will ask you to create an account by entering an email address, a password and a username. Snapchat will ask if you want to check to see which of your friends in your social network are already using Snapchat.
Although it reminds us a lot of SMS texting, the app works with your data plan or WiFi connectivity when sending and receiving Snapchats. Keep in mind that once a Snapchat has expired, there’s no way you can look at it again.