A Guide to SnapChat, the App That's Kind of Like Instagram, Only with More Boobs

SnapChat, the "sexting app," has reached the point in an app's life where it is too popular for you not to know about.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

SnapChat, the "sexting app," has reached the point in an app's life where it is too popular for you not to know about. The photo-sharing app—yes, first things first, this is another picture taking cellphone thing—saw four times more photos on Thanksgiving than Instagram, which had its biggest day ever that day with over 10 million photos. It's also number-three in the free downloads section of the Apple app store and debuted on Android earlier this week. SnapChat, to be sure, has arrived. But maybe you missed it because the demographic skews younger? In that case, we're here to help with a handy guide for noobs (and boobs).

How is this photo-sharing app different than all those other photo sharing apps?

Unlike Instagram, which shows a stream of photos from a group of friends that you follow, SnapChat works more like text messaging, but only to people who also have the app. Once a picture gets snapped, then it gets chatted—get it? Oh, and pre-chatting snappers can use that little pencil icon in the top-right at over there to draw or write on photos. It also has a timing component, in that the photo only exists for a set amount of time from one to 10 seconds, as you can see to the right. Once recipients open their chats, they can only view it for that amount of time. Seeing a photo requires pressing and holding down the new snap, as you can see below. Once the time runs out, then the photo disappears... forever.

Ooooh, so this disappearing photo thing is why people are saying it's prime for sexting?

Yup. Think about it like this: No trace of sexts for mom and dad or anyone to see. The person gets the photo, a little 10-second nip action, and then it's like it never happened. The app even discourages screen-grabs, making it hard to take them during the process and notifying the sender when screen-caps do happen. Why? So that the raunchy photos don't get circulated or sent to places like Hunter Moore's gross Is Anyone Up reincarnation. That kind of thing makes it look like the SnapChat people know what sort of stuff is getting passed around, even though SnapChat CEO Evan Spiegel denies that. "I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be," he told TechCrunch's Billy Gallagher. "I just don’t know people who do that. It doesn’t seem that fun when you can have real sex."

Okay, but is that the only thing it's good for?

No. It's kind of silly and fun and the type of things seventh graders would use to take photos of boys they like and draw faces on them, or something. (That's what The Atlantic Wire did with the app when we get our hands on it.) It's hard to believe that over Thanksgiving all 1000 SnapChats per second were sexually explicit.

Wait, so say I wanted to use this for sexting, in a totally hypothetical world, of course, is it really that safe? 

No. There are a bunch of ways to get around the safeguards. First, like we said, there's always the screenshot method. Or, another phone could take a photo of the phone with the SnapChat and then send that around. There is also this scary caveat in the site's privacy policy:

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.

Hmm, okay, but maybe that is safer than other forms of sending nudie media around?

Maybe. But, also, inappropriate photos, no matter how secret, somehow manage to make their way into the wrong hands no matter the medium. If you're worried about that, don't use SnapChat sex stuff. Not worth it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.