One wildly popular app called Snapchat has spent months as a top download that promises fun and silly picture texting between friends, but it's quickly developed a reputation as a way to sext without consequences -- and teens know it.
Ask around on any college campus, and many people know of Snapchat and will describe it innocently as a way to send temporary funny pictures that will vanish after seconds of being seen.
The app works by taking a picture which can then be drawn on or have text added to it. Users choose how long they want the recipient to see it. When they hit send, the person on the other end gets it, views it, and then it's gone.
But is it really? A quick web search of Snapchat images shows lots of goofy pics, but it soon becomes clear that these aren't self-posted pictures -- or "selfies." The photos that were supposed to have self-destructed can still end up being stored.
Kate-Madonna Hindes is a professional social media consultant, and she explained that there is still a security loophole.
"I can capture a screen shot very, very easily on my iPhone and keep that picture forever, and it could end up on a site like Tumblr," she explained. "There [are] specific blogs out there just for pictures that should have been deleted."
That's troublesome -- especially since the app has become popular among teens due to its reputation as a tool for "safe sexting." Tech websites have detailed how videos sent via Snapchat can be recovered, and screen captures can be kept indefinitely.
"I think parents need to be concerned about it -- and more so, not just concerned, but they need to be educated about it," Hindes said.
The app's developers promise the images are not kept on their servers, and a message will be sent if a recipient takes a screen shot -- but convincing them to delete it could be tough.
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