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Snapchat has undoubtedly been one of this year's most
intriguing apps. The company has received quite a bit of press surrounding its
rejection of a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook and regarding the
rivalries among its founders. Furthermore,
the messaging app has gained a somewhat tawdry reputation for the occasional
explicit content it transmits. This is because messages sent in Snapchat
self-destruct (think Mission: Impossible without explosives!) and disappear
from the recipients phone.
Due to the hype, I decided to check it out myself to see if
it had any use for nonprofits. In my research, I uncovered a slew of similar apps
that promise to delete messages after they're read. But do they truly disappear into the ether?
When you sign up for Snapchat,
you're asked to create a unique screenname so others can identify you. Next,
you're taken to a "Find Friends" screen where you input your mobile
number. Snapchat then searches your address book to find the Snapchat usernames
of your friends. You can also send out invites to people in your address book
to join the service.
Once that's all set up, you
can start sending vanishing photo and video messages (also known as Snaps) to
your contacts. Tapping a camera button takes you into picture-taking mode.
After you take a picture, you can choose how long the recipient can view a Snap
before it is deleted (1-10 seconds), add a drawing or text, and then send.
The interface is clean and simple and requires almost no learning curve. The icons are (pictured to the right) are easy to find while you're putting together your Snap. The only feature that wasn't clear at first is the downward arrow icon. Its function, however, became clear once I realized that it can be used to save your photos before you send them. After I loaded in my contacts, I was sending Snaps of my awesome desk plant to as many people as I could.
Snapchat has a new feature
called Stories that lets you share videos for a 24-hour time period. Unless
deleted by the creator, these can be viewed by your contacts repeatedly in that
time period before they are deleted.
Snapchat might be useful if
you're sending business information internally that you'd like to keep under wraps.
For example, you could use it to share a photo for an upcoming fundraising
campaign or video for a Facebook campaign.
Businesses have also been
using Snapchat for promotions,
which is something I can see nonprofits possibly doing for fundraising
campaigns. For example, users could send a Snap of themselves supporting a
nonprofit's mission, such as picking up litter or collecting food donations. The
nonprofit could then send a Snap back with a coupon code for merchandise from
What if your nonprofit deals
with sensitive client information? Could Snapchat be a viable solution for ultra-private communication? Unfortunately,
Snapchat isn't 100% secure.
Snaps can be saved way of a screenshot, a function most smartphones have. During the viewing
period of a Snap, the recipient must maintain contact with his or her phone's touchscreen,
which hinders them from taking a screenshot. It is still possible, however, to
take one. The sender is notified if the recipient takes a screenshot, but they
can't really do anything else to prevent their message from being saved (other
than to not trust that particular recipient!).
According to this Snapchat blog
post, unopened Snaps can be retrieved by the company under certain
circumstances. The example Snapchat gives is if the company receive a search warrant
from law enforcement, they are obliged to produce Snaps under the Electronic Communications
When the recipient opens a
Snap, it is immediately deleted from Snapchat's servers. But has it really
disappeared into the ether? ITWorld
dug into the fine print of Snapchat's terms of service and noted that the company can also retain opened Snaps for a time, but again, this is only under special
But perhaps the biggest danger
to your privacy is from third-party apps that bypass Snapchat's settings. A new
app called SnapHack
Pro for iOS lets you log in using your Snapchat account credentials and
send Snaps. What's the catch? You can save
opened and viewed Snaps.
new text-only ephemeral messaging app, might be more appealing for business
communication. Like Snapchat, it automatically deletes messages after they are
viewed. Ansa is a similar app that supports
disappearing text, videos, photos, and drawing messages.
But like Snapchat, neither of
these apps are 100% secure. Ansa states in its terms of service that the
company will dig up "deleted" messages in response to a search
warrant requests from law enforcement.
noted that it's much easier to take a screenshot of a Skim message than a snap.
But according to Skim's co-founder, the company is working on end-to-end
encryption for chats.
With any social network, always use discretion when sending information to staff, constituents, or
clients. While messages sent in virtual disappearing ink might seem more
secure, the truth is that anything sent electronically leaves a footprint. And
unfortunately, privacy claims aren't as airtight as we'd like them to be.
Do you use Snapchat personally or within your organization? Log in and let us know in the comments!
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
Great post! I would recommend FineFilterz.com as they have unique Snapchat Geofilter with lots of new designs.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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