Snapchat iPhone App to Share Discreet Photos That Vanish in Seconds

November 28, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Photos keep a moment’s memory alive. Or so we think. Well, not all photos do. Some photos are, like a passing moment, over (or shall I say, disappear) in a flash.

We have come a long way in the field of photography, snapping through many types of cameras, and transcended the age of capturing on a film to a memory card. One of the main utility of snapping away on cellphones and digital cameras is the ease of sharing.

But another phase of photography has a new agenda: to take and share photos that won’t last for more than a few seconds. Sounds crazy and weird but the phenomenon is widely appreciated.

There’s an iPhone app in the market called Snapchat that allows capturing and sharing of photos, all the while allowing the user to control the time of its visibility. The user can set the time, mostly up to 10 seconds, for the receiver to view it, after which the photo vanishes.

After the picture disappears, if the receiver tries to capture an image of the photo, the sender gets a notification. Now, why would you want an image that wouldn’t last, unless it is something you wouldn’t want to be risked seen.

A study by Pew Research Center for their Internet and American Life Project revealed that 6 percent of adult Americans admit to sending a “sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photo or video” using a cellphone. 15 percent have admitted to having received such images, while 3 percent of teenagers admit to sending sexually explicit content.

This practice of sexting has a risky edge, where the photo might end up in the wrong hands. And that’s where the application of Snapchat comes in.

Although the description of the app in Apple’s App Store doesn’t mention anything about sexting, it does have images of scantily clad women. Moreover, Apple has lined the app for use by people of age 12 and above and warned about “mild sexual content or nudity.”

But just because the photo vanishes quickly leaving no trace in the recipient’s phone, it doesn’t mean the method is totally reliable. There’s nothing to stop the recipient from taking a snap of the image on his smartphone with another camera.

Moreover, even though the app’s privacy policy states that it would try and erase the photos from its servers, it does say that it “cannot guarantee that the message data will be deleted in every case” and that “Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.”

The risk is always there, whether you use the latest technology to protect yourself. Snapchat isn’t the first app  that has come out that helps people do stuff they wouldn’t normally do, and the app won’t probably be the last.

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