Can a smartphone app make cyberbullying easier than it already is? Quite possibly! Naked Security recently published an article on Snapchat explaining how the smartphone app can be used for nefarious purposes by those who want to hurt others.
When the creators of Snapchat set out to provide a safer way to share photos and messages with friends and significant others, they weren’t thinking about how teens could use the software make cyberbullying even easier. The app, which is available for both iPhone and Android devices, allows users to send a picture and set a viewing limit time. Once the viewing time ends, the photo vanishes. If the recipient takes a screenshot, the sender is notified.
Although the app can be used for sending any type of photo, teens mainly use it as a way to “safely” send each other racy photos. Many teens are lured into a false sense of security with Snapchat, because when it works, the app is supposed to delete the evidence within a preset amount of time. However, very fast users can still take a screenshot of the image. Yes, the app does let the sender know about the screenshot, but once it’s saved on the recipients’ phone, there isn’t much they can do about. Plus, there are instructions out there on how to prevent the app from notifying the sender about the screenshot in the first place.
How Does Snapshot Make Cyberbullying Easier?
An app like Snapshot can make it easier for cyberbullying to take place in two major ways. One way can occur when the app works as it should, while the other relies on fast fingers that can take screenshots.
- Instant cyberbullying without leaving evidence. Kids can use Snapchat and similar apps to send a mean-spirited photo to their victim and set the photo to expire right away. The victim has no record of the image to show to parents or educators. It’s difficult enough to put a stop to cyberbullying, but without evidence it’s almost impossible.
- Cyberbullying through saved screenshots. On the flip side, those who are able to take screenshots of the images can use them for harm as well. Say a teenage girl sends her boyfriend a racy photo, expecting it to vanish from his phone after 10 seconds. The boy can screenshot the photo and keep it indefinitely. If the two break up, he can then send that photo to anyone he chooses, humiliating the girl.
Of course, bad breakups aren’t the only risky situations that can arise through the false sense of security provided by apps like Snapshot. In even worse case scenarios, the photos can be uploaded to illegal pornography sites, putting teenagers in further danger.
Please keep in mind that we are not saying Snapchat is responsible for the cyberbullying that takes place through its app any more than Facebook is responsible for kids who use their platform to hurt others. The sad fact is, bullies will find a way to use whatever tools they van to inflict pain. However, when an app provides a false sense of security, teens are even more likely to throw caution to the wind and get more than a little risqué in the images they send to each other.