The Rise of Erasable Social Media…or So We Think

// Posted by on 02/10/2013 (7:27 PM)

Snapchat is a photo sharing/messaging application that was developed by Stanford students, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, as a project for one of their classes. The genius behind the application is that it auto-destroys the sent images seconds (up to 10) after being opened. Snapchat was launched in September 2011 and by 2012 it was named the “Fastest Rising Startup” by TechCrunch. According to The New York Times, Snapchat is now valued between $60 and $70 million and approximately 60 million snaps are sent every day!

So why and how has Snapchat become one of the biggest and most popular apps out there? Well there are many reasons, but I believe that much of snapchat’s success is in response (or resistance) to the rise of Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Most people find social media networks and large search engines to be “among the least trusted industries when it comes to protecting customers’ privacy online.” So “Snapchat subverts these existing networks because its user base doesn’t want the content itself to show up on the web” and their privacy-based content promotes consumer trust and loyalty. Want to know just how deep this consumer trust and loyalty runs? Just look at the recent rise of Facebook’s self-destructing messaging app “Poke” in which Snapchat crushed all competition.

Although Snapchat’s popularity and success is based on privacy and consumer trust, Snapchat only offers the illusion of true self-destruction. Snapchat quotes “When you send or receive messages using the Snapchat services, we temporarily process and store your images and videos in order to provide our services. Although we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted, we cannot guarantee that the message contents will be deleted in every case. For example, users may take a picture of the message contents with another imaging device or capture a screenshot of the message contents on the device screen. Consequently, we are not able to guarantee that your messaging data will be deleted in all instances. Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user.” So do we buy this new notion of Erasable Social Media? Is there any technology that we can truly trust with privacy?



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