When Snapchat was first introduced to the masses, it was every bored collegiette’s dream come true. Snapchat allows smartphone users to send images and videos, also known as “snaps,” that supposedly self-destruct up to ten seconds after being opened by the receiver. The free app, which could be considered Instagram’s far less attractive but much more entertaining counterpart, seemed to give the green light to those looking to send unflattering or racy shots while evading the risk of having them ever appear again. “I use it every day,” says Liz Fisher, a senior from East Carolina University. “It’s a quick and hilarious distraction that moves the day along and keeps my friends and I connected.”
Since its debut last summer, Snapchat has made its mark on college campuses nationwide. While students like Liz say they most often use the app to send more scandalous selfies, check out these dangerous mistakes you may be making when it comes to the alternative uses of Snapchat and how you can protect yourself from their embarrassing consequences.
Think that Snapchat is safer than sexting? Think again.
Pictured above is the graphic that appears when a receiver has taken a screenshot of a snap sent to them.
Perhaps the biggest misconception collegiettes have about Snapchat is that because their pictures can’t be technically accessed by the receiver after a certain amount of time, they must be completely inaccessible forever.
Ethan Tome, a senior at Towson University, discussed with us his perspective on Snapchat: “I had always been under the impression that Snapchat was created for nudies, since there seems to be no real risk associated.”
This false form of thinking has led women to send partially naked or fully naked pictures using the app, apparently oblivious to the risks. First of all, while the receiver cannot access the original image after the time allotted, they are still able screenshot the picture, or use another device to photograph the image. According to this article in Forbes, there was such a prevalence girls using Snapchat to send “nudies”, that a tumblr account was created (since taken down late last year) entitled “Snapchat Sl*ts” that included – you guessed it – screen shots of naked pictures sent over Snapchat. And while the app does alert users when someone has taken a screenshot of an image sent, there is truly no way to control what happens to said image after it is saved to the receiver’s phone, or the world wide web for that matter. And even if a scandalous image is saved on the phone of someone you trust, like a boyfriend, there is no guarantee on what he may choose to do with that picture down the road. Our advice? Leave something to the imagination and use Snapchat strictly for shots that include clothing.
You’re confusing phone memory with human memory.
If you do choose to use the app for sexting purposes, remember that simply because the receiver of your snap didn’t screenshot it, doesn’t mean he is the only one who saw it. Roommates, teammates, or anyone in his general vicinity could have bared witness to the bare snap you sent, and simply because he agrees not to save the pictures you send does not mean he is the only one viewing them. Don’t put too much faith in a guys’ judgment when it comes to these things, especially if you two aren’t dating or exclusive.
Anna*, a senior at University of Maryland, discusses the sexting rules she established when she and her boyfriend had to go long distance. “I never include my face or anything identifiable in naked pictures I send,” Anna says. “It provides me with some security and protection.” While it is also better to avoid sending compromising pictures in general, taking these precautions may help prevent a humiliating situation in the future.
You get a little snap happy after drinking.
Although snaps you send may be kept between you and your close friends during daytime hours, being presented with a list of potential receivers after knocking back a few drinks can easily end in disaster. Whether it’s a video of you and your girls dancing seductively at a bar or a picture of your best friend passed out in a cab, snaps like these sent to all of your “friends” may come back to haunt you. If you a self-admitted drunk texter, you may very well be a drunk snapper as well, and once a snap is sent, consider its whereabouts completely out of your control. While you may come off as completely demure and classy to your crush sober, all it takes is one picture sent in bad taste to completely change his mind about you. And it’s safe to assume that the one thing worse than waking up to seeing all the texts you don’t remember sending, is finding all the snaps you don’t remember sending and that you can’t even access yourself.
Even Snapchat warns you of the risks!
Long story short: If it’s not something you would want your father to see, it may be a smart move not to snap it. Regardless of who may be receiving you snaps, remember that Snapchat is in no way foolproof and anything sent via cell phones is rarely ever gone for good. While Snapchat is great for a mid-lecture laugh or a quick way of staying in touch, remember the very real risk factors that accompany the varying uses of this popular app.
*Names have been changed