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Snapchat Photos Latest To Be Hacked
By: Jennifer Graber
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Presumably many users download the Snapchat app for the benefits it has over other photo-messaging apps. One of those alleged benefits is the temporal characteristics of Snapchat. Users can upload and send photos that basically have an expiration date. After the photos are sent, they get deleted and are never seen again. The lack of permanence within Snapchat can cause a sense of boldness amongst its users. Individuals might take and share photos that they would never want to see the light of day, simply because they know the photos expire. These photos might be extremely silly, embarrassing, or very personal. But they all hinge on one thing — Snapchat photos are safe because they expire. However, that safety net was ripped away this week.
 
This week 100,000 to 200,000 Snapchat photos were "hacked by 4chan users." Some of the hacked Snapchat photos include sensitive, i.e. explicit, images. Many of the sensitive images come from underage Snapchat users. That fact brings up a completely different set of questions, but that is for another time. The images themselves have not actually been released — yet. What actually was hacked was a database of Snapchat photos. However, the hackers were threatening to release the images, along with user names, on Sunday.
 
What is interesting is that Snapchat itself is not accepting any blame for this hacking. Snapchat is saying that in no way were its servers part of this data breach and hacking. The photo-messaging app is placing the blame solely on third-party apps. The hacking allegedly occurred through usage of third-party apps to send and receive Snapchat photos. This precise usage is prohibited by Snapchat. Snapchat says it works to eliminate such apps because of the threat they pose to privacy and security.
 
It almost seems as if Snapchat is taking an "I told you so" approach with its statements, whether or not it actually means to. Users were hacked through "illegal" app usage that breaks Snapchat’s terms of agreement. So, in a sense, users did place themselves at risk. But that does not mean they deserved to get hacked. We all put ourselves up for digital risk every day — intentionally and unintentionally. Perhaps the users knew they were not adhering to Snapchat’s terms of agreement. The fact of the matter is, however, that the users did not mass distribute these sensitive images via the Internet or social media. They used a Snapchat-based environment for its privacy and limited audience.
 
All of the data breaches and hackings lately are a clear cry for increased security and privacy. What is also clear is that we can no longer fully trust in the digital world, unfortunately. But what is distressing is that we have no choice but to trust. So much has gone digital and social; it is a catch-22. Why do these hackers not use their intelligence to improve security, rather than hurt others? By exposing security flaws, the hackers are creating more vulnerability, because now users are at risk for further issues. Hackers can have malicious intent. Some are just plain hateful. Yet some are doing so to point out flaws and lies from companies. Why not make a difference and fix the digital mess instead?


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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