As published in their website, Snapchat is apparently “the best way to reach 13 to 34 year-olds”. They reported having more than 8 Billion snap views EVERY day.
Snapchat is a one of a kind brand because of its feature that allows only temporary viewing of published material. Opposing tradition in cyberculture, Snapchat made the elusion that things posted online can be erased and that no one will ever get to pin it against them in the future. This is not true. The internet is an encrypted environment of 1s and 0s. What ever is fed to it will cling to it forever.
The idea was to sell “impermanent photos” to the digital society.
Snapchat claims that:
“Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communication the full range of human emotion – not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
Snapchat opposes the usual cyberculture of using social media to ‘dress to impress’. Social networking sites are avenues for people to get their 15 minutes of fame by posting about the things they do, often to seek approval from their peers.
No, Snapchat isn’t like everybody else. (They’re hipster)
This social media platform was conceptualized to be capturing raw moments and maybe attempting to break down the walls of ‘fake lives’. However, that is not the case for all.
Like any social media, Snapchat eventually turned into an avenue to document the seemingly everyday to, as usual, impress others. Rather than making “explicit” posts on Facebook and Instagram, users try to make a sort of “slice of life” feel. Since Snapchat is supposed to capture the raw and everyday, it temporarily displays something supposedly “ordinary”. Ordinary in a sense that a user would say, “I do this everyday”. However, not all snaps are about everyday activities. Some snaps are also about things that are out of the ordinary.
Snapchat has a feature that allows the user to see how many views and who viewed their snaps. Intentionally or not, the app actually interest users in counting their views like a popularity contest. Moreover, because of its fast-capture user interface, it is easy to retake snaps to stage a “better” photo or video.
This kind of social media is actually promoting “information pollution”. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, Information pollution is the “Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder for people to extract useful information. The more you say, the more people tune out your message.”
Users use snapchat to document almost everything they do. Snapchat filters are also used for entertainment. This kind of culture promotes random trolling out of boredom adding to information pollution.
Another unique feature the app boasts of is its geofilters. According to the Snapchat Official website, they describe geofilters as: “…special overlays that communicate the “where and when” of a Snap in a fun way, whether you’re sending it to a friend or adding it to your Story.”
Snapchat has proven to be a fun app for just anyone to use. The culture that the app is promoting is a very laid-back and just-for-kicks kind of randomness. These kinds of cultures are subject to user complacency. Having too much fun on snapping makes room for things to slip through the mind of users.
By publishing the activities of one day is subject to safety and security. By announcing one’s location, sometime even time, will make it easier for individuals to stalk Snapchat users. The app is basically making surveillance easier because it is using others’ resources to their own benefit. There is no need to hide in black cars 10ft away, set-up cameras nor to hack into systems because users do it willingly and “with consent”.
(Article about why parents fear Snapchat: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2013/05/01/what-is-snapchat-and-why-do-kids-love-it-and-parents-fear-it/#7a00f6882551)
Snapchat boasts of the opportunities for advertisers and marketers have on the app, as well. Although the analytic strategy isn’t as solidified as other social networking platforms, Krystal Overmyer says that ads get positive reactions from Snapchat users. This contributes to the growth of smartphone advertising.
(Krystal Overmyer’s Article: http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/news/snapchat-marketing-analytics-are-still-tricky-to-capture/)
Knowing that Snapchat is selling themselves hard to advertisers and marketers says that they have been using personal user information to attract these advertisers. This is a question to pose to users: Did you consent to this? However, the answer, whether aligned with your actual opinion or not, is yes… in the terms and conditions… when you clicked agree before signing up for an account.
Another questionable feature that Snapchat boasts of is its temporariness. There is no such thing as temporary data on the internet. All user data from Snapchat is saved in data warehouses. This data is what Snapchat uses for their advertising, for their improvement and other activities.
An alarming issue that arose in this culture is the sexting. Users snap private matters, thinking that it can only be viewed that one time and it will never get a chance to be spread. *ANNOYING BUZZ SOUND* WRONG!
(more about Snapchat sexting culture as a norm: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11868102/Will-Snapchats-new-update-stop-people-from-sexting-using-the-app.html)
There are many third party apps that can access user snaps multiple times without the user even knowing it. Moreover, users can just always screenshot each others’ snaps. Although there is a notification that your snap has been screenshot by this specific person but what more can you do if that person already took the screenshot. The most you could do is ask the person to delete the screenshot but that is also out of your reach because the person can opt not to.
I find this feature dangerous because of the culture it promotes. The generation today is less and less careful about what is posted online. There is no responsibility because it has become the norm in internet culture to post about your everyday life and random trolls. This is in the spirit and defence of having the “right to free speech”. However, there should still be responsibility. There should always be a critical thinking culture. These posts may subject users to security breaches or cyberbullying.
Millennials might take posting their opinions, emotions, personal information… in fact their (our) whole lives lightly because this is the culture that they (we) have been accustomed to. But just the movie plot of the social network horror story, Unfriended, the effects of posting online can lead to dangerous things (not necessarily paranormal activity) like suicide, depression, deep hate, etc.
(Trailer to Unfriended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Vjb4qn7B8)
It is important to always be critical in assessing the advancements in technology. Although Snapchat is a great app that was conceptualized from a great idea, there will always be consequences, intended or unintended, that come out. More importantly, in everything, not just in Snapchat or social media, it is important to have a critical thinking mindset to question the things that might harm society. With this, it is also important to be aware of the issues that rise from the different things we interact with in society. Finally, as individuals, we must always think the things we do (post) before doing (posting) them. We (the millennials) have to learn how to take responsibility for our actions (postings).
(More about Snapchat Privacy Issues: http://www.informationweek.com/software/social/5-ways-snapchat-violated-your-privacy-security/d/d-id/1251175)