Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Snapchat: Fun, Fast and Sometimes Too Revealing

By Dylan Bestler

In today’s age, there are many ways of getting in contact with people even when you’re not around them. You can call them, text message, face time, Skype, direct message on social media, and since 2011, Snapchat has become a big source of contacting people.

Snapchat was started by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, who were then students at Stanford University. The app, originally called “Picaboo,” can be used to send pictures, videos, text and drawings to other people. These pictures/videos/etc. are known as “snaps” and the person receiving it can only view it for a maximum of ten seconds. This got pretty big and as of May 2014, over 700 million snaps were being sent per day.

Since the app was created, a lot of new features have been added to it. In October 2013, Snapchat added “Snapchat Stories.” These “stories” can be viewed by all of the user’s contacts for 24 hours before disappearing. Since May 2014, users can now chat with each other through text. Like snapchats, the texts can only be seen for a limited time. The second you leave the chat screen, the text goes away.

In November 2014, Snapchat launched its new feature, “Snapcash,” which allows users to send money to their contacts if they setup Snapchat with their debit/credit card number. On January 27, Snapchat added a “Discover” page. If you swipe all the way to the right on the app, you can view videos from channels such as Comedy Central, ESPN, food network, People magazine, CNN, Yahoo and some other channels.

With this update, Snapchat deleted its “Best Friends” feature. Before this update, users could view their contact’s “best friends” or the three people they snapchat the most. It was removed because it was a problem for some relationships. If a girl saw that her boyfriend was snapchatting another girl more than her, it has caused problems, which is why they removed that feature. A user can still see their own best friends listed but it is no longer open to the public.

The last added feature to snapchat was the “emoji update,” which was added on April 6. Now there are emojis (or digital icons used to express an idea or emotion) next to your contact’s names and each emoji means something. A heart emoji means that both contacts are each other’s number one best friend; a smirking face means that person is on your best friends list but you are not on theirs; a smiley face means that both you and that contact are “best friends” (in the top seven most snapchatted); a grimace face means that both contacts have the same number one best friend (they both snap the same person the most); a face with sunglasses means that one of their best friends is also one of your best friends; and the fire emoji means that you have snapchatted the person multiple days in a row and the number next to it will increase.

Although Snapchat has many great features to it, the app has gotten many complaints. Snapchat has gotten in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission due to privacy standards.

Snapchat was meant so the user can control how long he/she wants his/her image to be seen by his/her contacts, but there is a way to view that image longer; it’s called the screenshot. A screenshot is when a user takes a picture of what’s on his/her screen, which means the picture can be saved forever. This has led to problems in the field of “sexting” or sending people sexual pictures or messages via cell phone. When girls or boys send these pictures and the others screenshot them, the person who took a screenshot can blackmail the other person because that picture can go viral and embarrass the one who sent it.

There isn’t as much privacy on Snapchat as most people think. Snapchat will notify the sender when someone took a screenshot of their photo, but you still have to be very careful sending out pictures on Snapchat.  

Despite the few negative effects of this app, Snapchat is an easy and fun way of communicating and sharing your experience with your friends. As long as you are careful, Snapchat is an app that everyone should download.

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