When we first heard about Snapchat, the photo-sharing app that lets you set how long the recipient can view a picture for, we immediately thought that it must be used for sexting.
Sexting is the practice of sending nude or revealing photos of one’s self to others.
Here’s how it works: You take a picture, set how long your friend can view it for, and send it. After your friend sees it, the photo is gone forever.
Snapchat launched in September 2011 and has since seen incredible growth.
It is now used more than 30 million times a day by millions of users. On Thanksgiving, Snapchat’s peak photo-posting rate was four times that of Instagram: Users sent 1,000 photos per second. It also currently sits at the No. 3 spot in the free category of the iTunes store.
The founders have repeatedly said that it’s not meant for sexting. We’re not buying it.
We have some anecdotal evidence that it’s all the rage among college students, some who have admitted using the app for sexting.
“I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be,” Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel told TechCrunch’s Billy Gallagher back in May. “I just don’t know people who do that. It doesn’t seem that fun when you can have real sex.”
We’ll give Spiegel the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he hangs out with a straitlaced crowd. But in a 2010 study cited by the FBI, 1 in 5 teenagers reported having sent or posted nude or seminude photos of themselves. By 2012, another study found that 28 per cent of teens surveyed said they had gotten involved in sexting.
Snapchat doesn’t have any source of revenue yet, but Spiegel recently told J.J. Colao of Forbes that he’s confident they can “flip the monetization switch” when the time is right.
That switch may prove harder to flip if Snapchat can’t satisfy sceptical advertisers that their messages won’t appear anywhere near nude images.
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