In the Matter of Snapchat, Inc. #00030

Submission Number:
Soretta Rodack
New York
Initiative Name:
In the Matter of Snapchat, Inc.
Matter Number:

132 3078

Your settlement with Snapshot is completely inadequate. The potential for damage to hundreds of thousands of people through identify theft, stalking, bullying and blackmail from the sale of their clients' personal information, including email and phone, as well as the collection of personal pictures and videos is cynical and shocking in the extreme, and merits criminal charges and severe punishment, not just a "slap on the wrist." Snapshot knowingly, callously and deliberately misled their clients. The FTC settlement merely "requests" the "private" photo-sharing app being told to stop lying, and to submit privacy reports to the FTC every six months for 20 years. And they're gonna play nice this time? No fines, restrictions or course-changing controls are to be imposed; under the settlement, Snapchat will be free to keep doing what it's good at. Good job, FTC. That'll teach 'em. And send shivers of fear through similar companies. This agreement follows the long FTC tradition of empty gestures in holding tech companies accountable for privacy promises. To add insult to injury, with this settlement sends the message to other companies that it's okay to deceive their clients; they will only get a slap on the wrist, they haven't done anything really wrong. LIE: Snapchat promised users that their photos disappeared forever, an impossible promise that exploits the average user's lack of knowledge about mobile technology's functions and implementations. TRUTH: Recipients of Snapchat messages can use their devices' screenshot function or one of many Android or iOS apps, downloaded by millions of users worldwide — to capture an image of a snap while it appeared on their screens. Verified by the FTC. Also verified by FTC: "On Google Play alone, ten of these applications have been downloaded as many as 1.7 million times." TRUTH: Snapchat's screengrab notification system feature is worthless. The FTC's own settlement agreement agrees: "recipients were not notified when screenshots were taken, as apparently, "recipients can easily circumvent Snapchat’s screenshot detection mechanism."Snapchat also told users their sent videos "disappeared" — when, in truth, the videos were actually automatically saved to the recipient's phone. TRUTH:Snapchat collected the contents of user address books without their consent, and its privacy policy also lied about collecting a user's location information. Snapchat secretly collected the private user information and shared it with unknown parties. Snapshot said, "Optional to the user, we also collect an email, phone number, and Facebook ID for purpose of finding friends on the service." This was NOT optional. When a client entered their phone number, Snapchat took their entire address book. Snapshot did not stop there. They also created false accounts to inflate their statistics. In short, Snapshot has lied in almost every way about almost all of their policies. They have deliberately and uncaringly broken the law, and possibly damaged thousands of lives, and the FTC by its totally inadequate response is sanctioning this kind of behavior. WHEN WILL THE FTC START PROTECTING MILLIONS OF CONSUMERS INSTEAD OF A HANDFUL OF CORPORATIONS? Snapshot deserves and should receive the severest penalty allowable under the law.