The new features will come in an update to the existing app, which has not yet arrived in the app store. / Getty Images

 

When Snapchat self-deleting messages first entered the mobile messaging scene they were hailed as a new paradigm for communication online. Now, however, the company has been forced to settle with US regulators for deceiving its users about exactly how ‘disappeared’ their messages really are.

The company has not admitted any wrongdoing but has agreed to be monitored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the next twenty years. The US government body said that Snapchat had misled users as to their policies on data collection, as well as the ease with which sent messages could be saved.

The commissions noted that individuals could keep messages in a number of ways, from using third-party apps installed on the same smartphone to basic workarounds that take screenshots of the mobile without the other user being notified.

In a blog post the company said only that "While we were focused on building, some things didn't get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community."

Founded by 23-year-old Evan Spiegel in 2011, Snapchat has seen massive growth over a short period of time. As of May the company said that users were sending over 700 million photos and videos a day, and the app recently introduced disappearing text messages as well as video chat in order to broaden its appeal.

The initial hype bought with a multi-billion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook (which Spiegel rejected) but also security and stability issues as the company sought to scale quickly. As well as spam Snapchat has also been hacked, losing millions of users’ data even after being warned about the problems in their code. The FTC’s 20-year ‘probation’ shows that the company is still far from maturity.

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