/// Welcome to Whose Snap is it Anyway? The App Where Points Don’t Matter and Privacy is Made-up.
There are many problems with SnapChat:
We already know that our snaps never actually “disappear” completely.
Don’t even get me started on the sexting and cyberbullying issues.
We can guess that an $860 million dollar valuation for a photo sharing app that isn’t generating a dime of revenue lies somewhere between insanity and the buzzword “bubble.” But then again, I could be wrong.
Business aside, what impact is this digital utility having on our real-world relationships?
Communication at its core has always been about sharing an idea or thought with another person or many people. We have certain societal structures built around different types of communication. For example a conversation at the dinner table will be drastically different than a conversation on national television.
SnapChat goes beyond these structures and takes on a new ambiguous structure of its own, leaving a broken form of communication that is not easily recognizable to the user. One example of this can be seen in this conversation I had with a friend today:
Me: You’ll never guess who snapped me this morning.
Me: Ya! How’d you know?
Friend: She snapped me this morning too, did the caption say “hello love?”
Me: Yes, I got the same exact snap.
What appeared to be a personal “moment in time” and message reserved for me alone was in reality a public announcement to both me and my friend. Who knows how many other people received the same seemingly interpersonal message.
Send to: EVERYONE.
Facebook users don’t have to worry about this due to the very direct structures put in place for different methods of communication:
1. Share an update publicly, everyone can see it.
2. Share with groups or friends, only they can see it.
3. Private message individuals or multiple people, only they can see it.
In all three designated areas of communication each member of the conversation is aware of the contextual structure. A publicly shared update on my Facebook Timeline is open game for any one of my friends, followers, or general public to see and interact with. Content shared with my private groups or individual friends is reserved for only those people. Simple.
SnapChat is open season. You have no idea if you are having a conversation with one person, or if one person is having an open “conversation” with 100 people at the same time. SnapChat is feeding into our massively narcissistic tendencies as human beings and we are all playing their game (myself included). We already know that social media and narcissism go hand and hand, but SnapChat takes this narcissism to another level by providing the illusion of privacy and ephemerality.
Ironically SnapChat provides users with anything but privacy and control. The scoring and “Best Friend” systems are two of the most arbitrary features that I have ever seen built into an application. Points measure nothing outside of how much you actually use SnapChat comparatively to your friends. You can’t use these points to earn SnapChat swag, buy special sticker packs (*hint hint* SnapChat, monetization idea), or anything of value. The points just exist.
Finally the feature that has probably caused more breakups and drama than even Facebook can compete with: Best Friends. Why am I forced to show the world who I exchange snaps with? There is no way to control, hide, or alter this setting and you can be sure that people do check to see who their friends are snapping with.
Perhaps this is a part of SnapChat’s master plan, to shake things up; forcing radical transparency and “honesty.” I’m all for honesty, if you don’t have anything to hide you shouldn’t be worried about who your “best friends” are on SnapChat. At the same time, I think I speak for a majority of users when I say that having the choice to control my privacy would be optimal.
SnapChat really hasn’t evolved much in the past two years, but when you are experiencing hockey stick growth the last thing you want to do is tick users off with bloated features or massive changes. Maybe one day there will be a better way to track conversations, points will have meaning, and users will have the ability to control their privacy. Until then, here are some some pro tips for using SnapChat:
Always assume the photo you send will be seen publicly, because one day it may be.
Always assume the photo you receive has been sent to 100 other people, because it may have been.
Medium – Andrew Torba