The photo-sharing app Snapchat has admitted to being untruthful when they stated its user’s photos would only briefly exist then ‘disappear forever’.
The news was brought to light in a settlement with the U.S. government’s FTC. Yahoo news reported that Snapchat is to be monitored for privacy for the next 20 years by independent privacy professionals and that violations could lead to fines for the company.
One of Snapchat’s key selling features was that after a user had sent a photo, that photo could be viewed for a set time and then it would be deleted forever. However, there are numerous ways that a recipient can save the images indefinitely, including by using third-party apps. The FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez said that “if a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises.”
The FTC reported that “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.”
Snapchat have released a blog post detailing their agreement with the FTC and have commented that “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.”
Many technology sites quickly pointed out exactly how wide of the mark Snapchat had been to its users regarding their privacy. CNET remarked that that there were “numerous” ways to capture the supposedly “private” files.