Many teens and pre-teens now have smart phones. Smart phones allow users to have instant access to the internet and to a variety of applications they can download to their phone to use to chat or send pictures of themselves online. Sadly, preteens and teens do not often consider the full consequences of what they decide to share online or on their smart phones and he or she may send something out that can later change their entire life.
Snapchat is one of those applications available to smart phone users. Snapchat’s claim to fame is that someone can take an intimate picture send it to one or more friends or acquaintances and after a short amount of time the picture magically disappears. Forever...right?! Well, not exactly...
According to the Snapchat website the process works something like what I have written below:
• You take a picture on your smart phone or computer
• You send the picture from your smart phone or computer
• Your picture is received and stored on Snapchat’s temporary servers
• The picture is later removed from Snapchat’s temporary servers
• The program for Snapchat removes the picture from the receiving device
• And all is well in the world of indecent exposures right?!
If Snapchat worked as it was advertised originally during its initial release in September, 2011, then the person receiving the picture could not in all essence keep the picture you sent to their device. After all, Snapshot is designed to remove the picture that was sent from the receiver’s device once the receiver opens the attachment. The problem with this logic is that even after a picture is erased from a smartphone or computer physically, a ghost like image remains imbedded on the device. The ghost image can be found forensically on the hard drive or the SIM card.
What Snapshot is saying currently in their TOS and Privacy agreements as of June, 2013, is that they cannot guarantee any picture sent through Snapshots application programing is erased within a certain time frame and may remain on the receiver’s device. Teenagers do not realize the impact of sending and receiving indecent exposure pictures from friends or acquaintances.
Legally, if a sender is under thirteen and the receiver does not know this he or she is actually accepting p*rnography and that is a felony in every state. Not only is it a felony if caught and convicted the person will be required to register as a sex offender for life. This may not be fair but it is the reality juveniles are facing daily in our court system. If the receiver keeps the picture, or takes a screen shot of the image he will have a permanent copy of the original picture. If he or she later decides to send it to a friend or two, he or she can now be charged with the felony distributing of p*rnography.
Everyone needs to consider carefully what he or she puts online and realize that it will be there FOREVER. If you do not want it to show up when you least expect it, the simple rule is do not put it out there in the first place. Please consider carefully what pictures you send with apps like Snapchat. Also, read the privacy terms on Snapchat’s website daily if you use the application. Snapchat updates the date above their message when changes to the privacy terms have been made by the company.