Photo: Evan Spiegel
Snapchat, a new app, is taking over college campuses.It lets you snap a photo, send it to a friend, and have it self-destruct within 10 seconds or less.
So media organisations, including us, have been quick to point out that this makes it ideal for sexting—the act of sending an intimate photo of yourself via a phone.
But that’s just simply not the case, Snapchat cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel tells Business Insider.
“I don’t think we’re surprised by that story just because it’s a good story,” Spiegel says. “But the reality of the situation is 80 per cent of snaps are taken during the day and you can’t upload photos from your gallery.”
Spiegel just isn’t convinced that people are actually snapping risqué photos of themselves in broad daylight.
We’re not convinced by this argument: Spiegel seems to conflate the time of day when a photo is taken with the social context. It’s perfectly possible to take a revealing photo of yourself “during the day.” And the fact that you can’t upload stored photos doesn’t seem like a barrier to sexting.
But Spiegel is pushing on.
“I think with any new product that’s difficult to understand there are always lots of questions and criticism,” Spiegel says. “I think we have all the right criticism. We’re just going to keep executing on what we believe.”
So if that app isn’t for sexting, then why are people taking more than 30 million snaps a day?
“I think it’s because it’s really different and it’s really fun,” Spiegel says. “It kind of breaks this old model based on performance for our friends in exchange for likes or retweets. It turns that around and it says ‘Hey, it’s more interesting and fun when you can express yourself and be silly.”
Spiegel doesn’t have proof of what people are taking pictures of, but that’s because the company doesn’t look at or save any of the images.
“We don’t want to own people’s photos,” Spiegel says, “We want to help them communicate with friends in whatever way makes them happiest.”
Even though Spiegel says the app isn’t for sexting, parents are still worried that it gives their kids a false sense of security. While it’s tricky to take a screenshot of a photo sent via Snapchat and the app reports the action, it’s still possible to capture a photo and post it outside Snapchat.
“We’ve never described ourselves as a secure application,” Spiegel says. “It’s important to be thoughtful and mindful about the things you say to other people.”
Spiegel says some people are quick to say that the app is aimed toward kids because of the design. But Spiegel says it’s really for everyone.
“When we’re in that kind of childish space, we’re more genuine and feel more comfortable with our friends,” Spiegel says.
And Spiegel seems to be right about that.
Yale student Chloe Drimal recently wrote about her experience using Snapchat. She absolutely loves it because it’s not permanent, like the rest of the technology she uses.
“By taking out the forever part of a picture of text, more people want to share,” Drimal writes on Yale Daily News. “They aren’t afraid to put themselves out there, to send an ugly picture that may turn someone off or a beautiful picture that may seem narcissistic. They know it will eventually disappear.”
Contrast that with Instagram, the photo-sharing app now owned by Facebook. People are keenly aware that others will see their photos—so much so that their self-satisfied self-promotion has become a joke.
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