A new iPhone photo app which allows users to send a photo which self destructs after a few seconds could be used to promote ‘sexting’ behaviour among teenagers.
Unlike Instagram or Flickr pictures, Snapchat images are time specific – perfect for users who don’t want recipients to hang onto embarrassing evidence indefinitely.
In fact company CEO Evan Spiegel has acknowledged these concerns, admitting, ‘The minute you tell someone that images on your server disappear, everyone jumps to sexting.’
However, the program does not stop the recepient from taking a quick screenshot nor can it prevent another phone or camera taking a picture of the original image.
All this has led to discussions of the apps potential use for sexting among teenagers despite Spiegel denying that his social media photo tool could promote it.
‘I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be,’ he said.
‘I just don’t know people who do that. It doesn’t seem that fun when you can have real sex.’
However, the Stanford graduate seems to have only grasped the lengths to which teens will go to get their sexual kicks – which they do increasingly through smartphones.
In response to concerns, Spiegel told BuzzFeed that the Snapchat team is ‘trying to do a better job educating our users and their parents,’ and that he was looking to add more guidance materials to their website soon.
The CEO said that the app is ‘not about privacy, per se’ and pointed to screen cap notifications, the requirement that users must know their recipients usernames on the app and the fact that photos must be sent live.’
The mixed messages coming from Snapchat lead back to the issue of whether the app itself is trustworthy.
It adds that ‘Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.’
When asked by the New York Times about sexting among teenagers, Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with the Pew Research Center, said: ‘What motivates teens is what motivates anyone who does this: You want to be in a relationship, you want to be desired, you want to be cool, or wild.’
She added: ‘Solving the problem is always a bit of an arms race; we have technology that allows us to do something, then we have to create the technology to help protect us.’
Snapchat was born after two undergraduates at the American university, Stanford, noticed their friends frantically deleting incriminating or unsuitable photos from their Facebook accounts just before going on a job interview or on a date.
The app could also come to the rescue of the many celebs caught out by the sexting trend, which has seen the likes of Rihanna and Democratic Congressman, Anthony Weiner, reveal much more than expected to the public.
Other celebrities who probably wish they had Snapchat include Twilight actress Ashley Greene, whose topless photos were splashed across the internet when her email inbox was hacked, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively and Vanessa Hudgens.
Even Prince Harry was left red-faced, after a fellow party-goer snapped him in the nude during a game of strip billiards earlier this year.
But if you’re hoping Snapchat is the answer to all of your pictorial woes, be warned: there’s a glitch.
Unscientific testing conducted by the Daily Mail revealed that fast-fingered iPhone users can save a screen grab of the image before it self-destructs, so long as they’re within the time limit set by the sender.
Perhaps it might be better to think twice before sending that risque text after all….