Snapchat ‘deceived users’ about disappearing messages

Snapchat ‘deceived users’ about disappearing messages, will be monitored by gov’t

RT: May 9, 2014

If Snapchat users thought their photos and videos disappeared – like they’re supposed to – they may be in for a surprise. The company settled with the Federal Trade Commission Thursday for deceiving users.

Snapchat is a messaging application that allows users to share pictures, short videos, messages and video chats with a friend or group. These messages, called Snaps, can be viewed for up to 10 seconds before they disappear.

“In most cases, once the recipient has viewed a message, it is automatically deleted from Snapchat’s servers and cannot be retrieved,” the company writes about its product. The app says it will notify a user if their Snap has been screen-captured by the recipient. But a study carried out by a US firm last April said Snapchat was not in fact designed to erase the files.

The FTC filed a six-count complaint against the popular app, saying it wasn’t living up to its promises of privacy and security. The commission accused Snapchat of misrepresenting how the application actually works.

“Despite Snapchat’s claims, the complaint describes several simple ways that recipients could save snaps indefinitely,” the FTC said in a press release.

In a blog post, the FTC went into detail on how even those people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy could save Snaps. “When a recipient got a video message, Snapchat stored the file in a location outside of the app’s ‘sandbox,’ the private storage area on the device that other apps can’t access. Because the file was in an unrestricted place, the recipient could connect their device to a computer and use simple browsing tools to locate and save the video,” the blog post says. “That method was widely publicized as early as December 2012, but the FTC says Snapchat didn’t fix the flaw until almost a year later when it began encrypting video files sent through the app.”

The complaint also detailed how Snapchat deceived its users regarding the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data. It accused Snapchat of “failure to secure its Find Friends feature resulted in a security breach that enabled attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers,” the statement said.

(read the full article at RT)

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