Snapchat Settles with the FTC Over Their Non-Disappearing Photos

Snapchat has settled a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission over their misrepresentation of "disappearing" content

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Snapchat has settled a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission over their misrepresentation of "disappearing" content. The FTC found that while Snapchat was marketing their photo app as a truly ephemeral product, they were tracking user data such as location, contacts, and phone numbers, therefore misrepresenting their privacy and security settings.

The FTC also accused Snapchat of storing sent videos on the recipients' devices. The videos could still be retrieved, as they could be stored outside of the app's automatically clearing feed, in a repository that could then be connected to a computer.

FTC chairperson Edith Ramirez issued this statement: "If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises. Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action." 

As part of the settlement, Snapchat will be monitored by an "independent privacy professional" for the next twenty years. If a misrepresentation is found during those twenty years, they could fined up to $16,000 per violation.

Snapchat blames the issue on their infancy as a company when these misrepresentations were made, issuing this statement: "This morning we entered into a consent decree with the FTC that addresses concerns raised by the commission. Even before today’s consent decree was announced, we had resolved most of those concerns over the past year by improving the wording of our privacy policy, app description, and in-app just-in-time notifications."

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