Defeating Snapchat’s Privacy in 4 Easy Steps

Snapchat doesn’t fulfill on it’s promise. It can’t, and it won’t. Not now, and not in the foreseeable future.

Self-destructing pictures only work if another copy can’t be made.

The obvious problem: screen shots

They kind of solved the easy problem of screen-shots by logging and notifying the sender if one of the receivers takes a screen shot.

It doesn’t eliminate the threat that a photo can be stored, but it does mitigate the risk a fair amount.

Now onto the less obvious, and much larger problem…


How to secretly copy a Snapchat pic

  1. Receive a Snapchat photo
  2. Take out a second phone/camera
  3. Open the Snapchat photo
  4. Take a picture of the screen with the second device
Not taken with Snapchat, but the principle is the same.
Not taken with Snapchat, but the principle is the same.

Et voila… You now have an undetectable, savable and resendable copy of the previously private Snapchat.

We live in a world full of cameras my friends. Never forget it.

Unopened Snapchats

If a Snapchat photo is unopened, it still lives on Snapchat’s servers, and can be turned over to the authorities. Which has happened about a dozen times.  

Dishonesty in the product

Let’s be real. There are a limited number of use-cases for self-destructing photos. Sending unimportant photos to friends, and sending really, really private photos to friends.

Snapchat sucks. It cannot do what it promises, because what it promises is not achievable through software. Full stop.

There is no such thing as a private photo delivery system.

If you don’t want people seeing a particular photo, then don’t take it, and certainly don’t send it to someone. Once you do send a private photo, the only security that remains is the integrity and respect of the receiver.

Your phone isn’t a sex toy. 

Practice safe computing.

(image via Wikipedia)

6 thoughts on “Defeating Snapchat’s Privacy in 4 Easy Steps

  1. Everything you’ve come up with is a pretty primitive solution: you’re not defeating Snapchat’s so called “privacy”: you’re just saving pictures with other pictures.

    1. Tim, that’s the point. It takes a low-tech, dumb as dirt, nearly effortless trick to break Snapchat’s core feature.

      Literally anyone can do it without special skills or knowledge, and that’s the big problem with the platform.

    2. Dude, that doesn’t prove incompetent programming or anything. Sure you’ve defeated privacy with no special knowledge whatsoever, but then again, what can they do? Make a built in laser beam that shoots a camera if you try to take pictures of your Snapchat pictures?
      It’s plain stupid. The steps you described hold no value, superiority, or triumph. What you call a Low-Tech solution, I call a No-Tech solution.

    3. First and foremost Tim you need to take a deep breath and calm down. I know you’re new here, and you seem like you’re new to blogging, but I can assure you, that it is possible to disagree without being a jerk. Disagree all you want, but be civil or be gone.

      Now onto the substantive point…

      Reread my post. At no time have I accused Snapchat of poor programming. Near as I can tell, their system runs reasonably smoothly. What I am arguing is that their ambition is impossible to achieve through software. It doesn’t matter how good they are at writing code.

      If a system’s core functionality can be subverted with (to use your words) a no-tech, plain stupid solution that holds no value, superiority, or triumph… Then the whole system if a failure.

      The fact that anyone with two hands, a phone and a camera can make an undetectable copy of a Snapchat photo without any special skills or knowledge underscores how dangerous it is to rely on Snapchat as a means of private communication.

    4. After rereading your post, I’ll agree with this: “There are a limited number of use-cases for self-destructing photos.” That’s a great point. But I think the main people who use it are teenagers who don’t want their parents knowing what they send, if you know what I mean.

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