Snooping Snapchat - Screen Week
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Emma Nolan

By Emma Nolan

Photo courtesy of Kae Yen Wong.

If you’re not with familiar with Snapchat by now, I don’t know where you’ve been. The mobile app has risen in popularity and gained users by the millions since it started two years ago. Snapchat is the mobile app that allows users to send images and videos with a time limit of up to 10 seconds before the snaps disappear, delete automatically and self-destruct…

The app also allows for users to draw on the images and videos and to add text to them. It’s a unique new form of communication to say the least. The fun of Snapchat lies in the fact that there is no lingering record left behind of silly drunken selfies, or just plain weird in-jokes between you and your friends that you don’t need all of Facebook seeing. The feeling of ‘privacy’ has also led to some controversy surrounding the app in that it encourages/enables sexting and the sharing of nude and sexually explicit photos.

Apart from that somewhat precarious use however, the main appeal of Snapchat does seem to be the fun that is to be had by sending these 10-second snaps to friends. The process is extremely fast, much faster than MMS messaging and allows for the sharing of images and videos to be done in a fast, easy, and effective manner.

It is no mystery why Mark Zuckerberg and the big shots at Facebook want a part in this. Snapchat especially appeals to teenagers and with Facebook’s younger audience waning, it seems there was an attempt to get down with the kids and their self-destructing selfies.

With its immense popularity and growth, Snapchat’s young founders, Stanford University students, Evan Spiegal and Bobby Murphy, both only 23, rejected Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spiegal and Murphy are holding out on buy-out offers currently so they can get “an even higher valuation at a later date.”

The success of Snapchat boils down to the incredible niche Spiegal and Murphy have expertly exploited. Who knew self-deleting photos and videos would be so popular? It’s a reflection of our changing attitude to social media and the bombardment of constant photos and videos, that the fleeting snaps of Snapchat are a clean, non-embarrassing way of sharing plain-old silliness (with a chance of showers) along with all your friends. There’s no anxiety waiting for the likes and comments to arrive or not and you won’t have to look at it again in a few years or months and cringe.

Snapchat is a company with “no sales and business model,” but according to The Wall Street Journal “the company said its usage had nearly doubled, to 350 million messages, or “snaps”, per day, up from 200 million in June [of this year].”

The app’s immense popularity and growth is telling of our current attitudes towards social media, perhaps we are becoming weary of Facebook and Instagram’s public and voyeuristic natures and are enjoying some privacy for once in the form of Snapchat.

Snapchat’s rejection of Facebook’s buy-out offer is perchance a fear of losing control of their creation, but with the company’s best days clearly still ahead of them, there is the possibility of receiving better offers. The two young founders are playing it safe and taking the time to work on their business and brand.

Though it has gained a somewhat risqué reputation for the ease at which sexy images can be shared and where the images go once they’ve timed out, the company is very committed to illustrating its openness and transparency. And although screenshots can be taken of the images before they time out, the sender is notified, so you can’t get away with taking sneaky screenshots without the sender knowing.

Snapchat is a new form of communication which has taken the world by storm. Its young founders have exploited a niche somewhere in between social media and texting. It’s fun, friendly and a little bit cheeky and Facebook is dying to get their hands on it…

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