Snapchat privacy concerns prompted by terms that allow company to ‘publicly display’ any content made on disappearing message app

New terms and conditions allow company to look through messages — and then publish them, if they wish

Andrew Griffin
Friday 30 October 2015 11:06 GMT
Snapchat, which has 100 million daily active users, allows picture messages to vanish after seconds
Snapchat, which has 100 million daily active users, allows picture messages to vanish after seconds (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Snapchat’s terms of service allow the company to look through your snaps and share them publicly.

The company can “review” content created on the app and even share information with third parties, according to its terms of service. The app has become popular as a way of sharing personal and often private information, through disappearing multimedia messages that are known as snaps.

The company updated its app last week, with yet more filters to add to those messages. But the company also has a terms of service that allow it to look through snaps and share them publicly.

“While we’re not required to do so, we may access, review, screen and delete your content at any time and for any reason, including if we think your content violates these Terms,” the agreement reads. “You alone though remain responsible for the content you create, post, store, or send through the Services.”

The terms give Snapchat a license to “exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)”.

The company may also share that information with other companies, according to the terms.

“We may share information with entities within the Snapchat family of companies,” the terms say.

The company also says that it may share information with third parties.

The privacy policy is in many ways similar to those used by other, similar apps and companies. Very similar worrying phrases were found in Microsoft’s terms and conditions earlier this year, for instance, when a tool that could guess how old you were went viral — but also granted the company the option to use and publish those photos.

Earlier this year, Snapchat was given a low rating by the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s secure messaging scorecard. The internet privacy group criticised the site for not allowing its code to be independently reviewed, and for not sufficiently encrypting messages so that the company itself can’t look in on them.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in