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Snapchat for Children?
By: Jessica Cherok
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As if there weren’t already enough questions around Snapchat, now they’re debuting a new app — SnapKidz. The app, specifically created for the 13 and under crowd, raises a lot of privacy concerns.

Snapchat, a photo-sharing service allowing the uploader to pick an expiration date for images shared, became wildly popular because it gave users more control over their pictures. Except recently it was discovered that deleted Snapchat photos can still be accessed on some mobile devices, even after they were supposedly deleted.

And admittedly, there is still the little hiccup of screenshots.

Companies that cater to children under the age of 13 have a whole host of obstacles to jump over. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has some very stringent rules about how companies need to protect children using their site. In fact, many companies opt out, allowing users under 13 years old on their sites.

Unfortunately, the verification process for potential 13-year-old users seems incredibly lax. In order to sign up for a SnapKidz account, all you need to do is enter your 2000-or-sooner birthdate.

There’s an obvious flaw in that verification step. You know — lying. And, while SnapKidz is meant to be saved locally, the images can still be sent.

Snapchat has proven a lot of adults have questionable judgment when it comes to sending pictures back and forth. And COPPA was enacted because tweens and under are notoriously terrible at judging everything.

Snapchat itself should be approached with a lot of caution, but even more so — SnapKidz should be approached with a 10-foot pole.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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