Pictures on the popular messaging app Snapchat don’t always disappear, according to federal charges filed Thursday.
Snapchat settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission over accusations that it misled consumers about the privacy of its service.
According to the government, consumers can download third-party apps that allow them to save Snapchat pictures and videos indefinitely. The app advertises to users that the pictures sent through its service “disappear forever” a few seconds after being opened.
The app also promises that it will notify users if the recipient of a picture takes a screenshot of it before it disappears. But according to the complaint, anyone using an Apple device with an old operating system can easily take a screenshot and evade notification.
“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,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. “Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action.”
The company also settled an array of other charges with the FTC. Snapchat allegedly tracked geolocation information for Android users despite promising not to. The company failed to properly encrypt videos and collected information from users’ address books without providing proper notice, according to the complaint.
Many consumers also complained that they had sent pictures to strangers, thinking they were communicating with friends. The FTC said Snapchat should have verified phone numbers during the registration process.
In a blog post, Snapchat acknowledged that in the early days of the app, “some things didn’t get the attention they could have.”
The settlement requires Snapchat to implement a comprehensive privacy protection program and to submit to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. Future privacy or security violations could result in fines.
What We're Following See More »
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.