Snapchat, the social media app that boasts 158 million daily active users globally and earned $404 million in revenue in 2017, released a public filing through the SEC. on Feb 2, 2017, a big step toward an expected IPO in March at an estimated valuation of $25 billion or more. It appears that 2017 could shape up to be even bigger for the social media app owned by Snap Inc., who now bills themselves as a camera company. However, if you are one of the app’s 158 million users or thinking of becoming one, here are 7 things you need to know when it comes to protecting your privacy and your reputation on Snapchat.

1. Read the Privacy Policy

Following a 2014 FTC lawsuit that determined their privacy policy was misleading, Snapchat’s Privacy Policy has to be monitored by an independent firm for a period of 20 years. Today, the policy is digestible, organized by app function, and includes a Transparency Report to show insight into the volume and nature of legal requests for Snapchatters’ account information. So does Snapchat really delete all those Snaps and chats? The answer is most of the time and it’s all explained in their Our Approach to Privacy page.

2. Other Users Can Save Your Snaps

It’s important to note (and Snapchat reiterates this point throughout their policy repeatedly) that other Snapchat users have the ability to capture your Snaps and your chats. This point is obvious, but can be easy to overlook when you are tempted to send a Snap that has the potential to implicate you or another person in a negative manner.

Snapchat’s site states, “Please Note: Snapchatters who see your messages can always save them, either by taking a screenshot or by using some other image-capture technology (whether that be software or even something as old-fashioned as a camera to take a photo of their device’s screen).”

While Snapchat notifies you if someone takes a screenshot of your Snap, you may not know if another user is utilizing a third-party app or another method to save your content.

3. Your Snap May Not Be for Your Recipient’s Eyes Only

When you think you’re sending a snap to a friend or significant other, it’s difficult to be sure they’re opening it in private and not surrounded by a group of other people. It’s also important to be aware that your snap could be opened in a public place, such as in a gym or on a subway where strangers are looking over the person’s shoulder.

4. You Can Download Your Data

Periodically, you can request a download of the data that Snapchat has collected about you. This data will show your account history information and facts like your Snap count, but also allows you to see information that Snapchat knows about you so you can determine what they are sharing with advertisers, such as your demographic profile. To request a data download, log in to your account at accounts.snapchat.com and go to My Data.

5. Snapchat Has Been Hacked

On Christmas Eve 2013, hackers matched 4.6 million phone numbers up to Snapchat usernames and leaked the information online. Prior to the hack, a group had warned Snapchat that an attack exactly like this was possible. While Snapchat has likely hardened their security since then, users should be wary of suspicious activity on their account or accounts of their friends. If you think you’ve been hacked, change your password. If you use the same password on multiple social accounts, change those too.

6. Revealing Your Location

As with any social media site, giving away your location could put you at risk. Sending a Snap that lets your followers know where you are, whether you announce it in a snap video or use one of Snapchat’s popular geofilters, could open you up to unexpected risk.

An example of such a situation is Kim Kardashian’s infamous Paris robbery. There has been speculation as to whether Kim Kardashian’s Snapchats leading up to the incident assisted the robbers by letting them know where she was and who she was (or wasn’t) with. Prior to the robbery, the police had already warned Kim’s sister Kylie Jenner to stop posting her location on Snapchat because she was being stalked.

Celebrity or not, Snapchat users shouldn’t announce to followers that they are home alone, and should consider waiting to upload Snaps that show users traveling and away from home.

7. Don’t Snap and Drive

It may seem like common sense to not use Snapchat while you’re driving, but Snapchat’s filters, lenses, and social media in general, sometimes lures people to participate in risky behaviors. For example, Snapchat offers a miles per hour lens that clocks your speed while taking a photo or video. In 2016, an 18 year old girl was allegedly using the speed lens while driving at 107 mph when she crashed into another car, injuring herself and the other driver. The driver who was hit is now suing the girl and Snapchat for liability.

When it comes to your online reputation, Snapchat’s Privacy Policy really sums up the overall approach users should take when using the app, social media, and the internet in general:

“So, the same common sense that applies to the internet at large applies to Snapchat as well: Don’t send messages or share content that you wouldn’t want someone to save or share.”

Photo of Rachel Neeves
About the Author

As a Brand Strategy Supervisor, Rachel oversees strategy across multiple projects and is passionate about helping clients see how sustained efforts pay off in the long run.

More