Unopened Snapchat Messages May Not Always Stay Private

By KYW Social Media Editor Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Any picture or video, taken and sent through the app Snapchat — which is often used for sexting — disappears a few seconds after the recipient opens it.

But what happens when law enforcement wants to see a “snap” that’s not yet opened, and still being stored by Snapchat?

In a blog post, Snapchat Director of Operations Micah Schaffer tried to re-assure users that the network will not hand over your “snaps” without a warrant.

Sandra Jeskie, a partner at Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris says, “They actually do say in their privacy policy we can not guarantee that the deletion always occurs within a particular time frame, we also cannot prevent others from making copies of your snaps and there may be ways to access snaps while they are in temporary storage on recipients devices or forensically after they are deleted.”

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act is a federal law that requires social networks, like Snapchat, to turn over messages to a law enforcement agency that requests them.

“Once all recipients receive a snap then they automatically delete it. There’s that intervening time period where snaps are essentially stored by Snapchat, and it’s during that time period that there’s a warrant or court order, it requires them to release that information,” says Jeskie.

Jeskie adds that this policy is not any different from other social networks like Facebook or Instagram. “If you don’t want this photo to go viral don’t send it because there are ways in which to retrieve these things”

A new app called Snaphack Pro, lets users save “snaps” to their iPhone camera roll without notifying the sender.

Most people do not read the terms of service before signing up for these platforms.

“If you don’t want this photo to go viral don’t send it because there are ways in which to retrieve these things.”

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