Popular app could land your teen in serious trouble
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - One of the most popular apps out there promises to delete a picture or video seconds after you send it to someone else's phone.
People have latched on to Snapchat because they consider it a safe way to send personal, or even racy, images. But it's easier to tap in to those pictures and videos than you may think. KBOI 2News found that the app many teens see as a way to send sexy pictures has some disturbing loopholes.
Fifteen-year-old Gabby Porter says she uses the app to send goofy pictures to her friends. She says she sends photos through Snapchat if she doesn't want her friends to hang on to them.
"You can take a picture," Gabby explained, "And you can send it to someone for like, 10 to one second and then that's as long as they can see it, and then it just kind of goes away."
But Gabby's not exactly correct.
Dylan Evans, a digital forensics expert, says nothing sent on Snapchat is actually guaranteed to disappear.
"It's going to go through a server somewhere," Evans said, "And the key is when you're sending something to someone else, you never know what's going to happen. It might stay on their phone forever. They might screenshot it. There's no guarantee."
The easiest way to save a picture off of the app is to screen shot it. When you do, the sender is notified. But this only works for iPhones.
Android users can save a photo or video without the person who sent it knowing. All that takes is downloading another app. Similar apps can also be found for Apple users. Using these types of apps, when someone sends you a picture through Snapchat, you can save it, forward it and even email it to whoever you want.
"Once somebody has that picture, theoretically they can do anything with it," Evans said.
Even if no one saves the photo or video right away, the file is still stored on the phones and could someday resurface. Evans uses a machine that takes old data off of cell phones, and, with a couple of steps of decoding, can retrieve files thought to have disappeared.
When KBOI 2News showed Gabby and her mom, Brandi Porter, how easy it is to bring back Snaps, they were floored.
"I think it's a little concerning," Brandi said. "It may seem like it's nothing right now, but later down the road, as they're applying for jobs or colleges, it could really come back to haunt them. And that's the last thing you want."
If you're uncomfortable with Snapchat being on your teenager's phone, you can send an email to Snapchat and ask it to delete the account.