No, Snapchat Isn’t Going to Use Your Private Pictures
Late last week, Snapchat updated its Terms of Service. The biggest change in language revolved around Snapchat’s ownership over user content, specifically:
“You grant Snapchat a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to […] exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known of later developed).”
“You also grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice in any and all media and distribution channels (now known or later developed) in connection with any Live Story or other crowd-sourced content you create, upload, post, send, or appear in.”
Scary words—really, when you start throwing around phrases like “perpetual right” and “your likeness,” people are likely to get uneasy. The assumption became that Snapchat was telling users it was going to use private Snaps for whatever it wanted and that using the app granted it total consent over everything you shared. Paranoia ensued, and people thought this meant that anything sent via Snapchat could be used in promotional materials—meaning yes, that NSFW selfie you sent with a three second view time could show up on a Snapchat advertisement someday, should the company so choose.
Luckily, that isn’t even close to correct. Yesterday, Snapchat took to its blog to clarify that no, your private messages and pics aren’t going to show up publicly in any advertisements—your cruel friends might screenshot them and put you on blast, but that risk remains the same as it always has.
“[Because] we continue to delete them from our servers as soon as they’re read, we could not—and do not—share them with advertisers or business partners,” Snapchat writes in the post. The change in language, then, was motivated but how Snapchat treats Live Stories, which is a collaborative feature where users can upload photos and videos from different locations to crowdsource one giant Snap story for everyone to look at. Snapchat wants to be able to monetize this content to the fullest of its abilities, which it was already able to do, but the company wanted its ToS to better reflect how that worked.
Also, part of the update related to paid-for Replays—in-app language is important, and it sounds like Snapchat wanted to rewrite its terms to cover potential upcoming paid-for features as well.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t be a little wary of using Snapchat to send anything that could get you in trouble. In the wrong hands, the screenshot becomes a dangerous weapon, and the platform has been hacked and users exposed before—but none of that should be new, and it’s the agreement you make in using the service. But you can rest easy that the derpy bathroom selfie you sent your sister won’t show up on a billboard anytime soon.
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