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How much should we blame Snapchat for “The Snappening”?

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Snapchat doesn’t have a whole lot of good will in the bank. Its response to a data breach earlier this year left a lot to be desired, its founder is “kind of an ass,” and its service is still known for allowing people to send pictures of their genitals to other people.

So when a new report claims that thousands of images shared via Snapchat have leaked, it’s very easy to blame the company.

But it seems like Snapchat might not be at fault this time. Business Insider reports that the images were probably taken from SnapSaved, a now-defunct service that allowed people to receive Snapchats on the Web and save images sent to them online, and Snapchat claims to have detected no signs of a breach of its own servers. Snapchat, at least in this case, is innocent.

There was little Snapchat users could have done to protect themselves from the leak besides keeping their images to themselves and not trusting that they would disappear when the timer ran out in Snapchat’s application. They didn’t know that images were being sent to SnapSaved, and SnapSaved users probably didn’t know that the site was grabbing every image it processed.

This is an obvious problem for Snapchat, which is built entirely on the idea that people want to send photos and messages that disappear after they’re seen instead of existing online in perpetuity. Even though the company’s taken measures to prevent sites like SnapSaved from operating, people need to be able to trust the service; otherwise they have no reason to use it for anything.

It’s a classic example of a no-win situation. Snapchat expressly forbids users from accessing its service with a third-party application in its Terms of Use — a fact that some are already trying to portray as a cop-out even though Snapchat’s right and it’s trying to make sure it lives up to its promise of providing an ephemeral messaging application.

Such are the dangers of using any online service. Sometimes things happen because of a series of mistakes that no one (except the hackers, of course) can be held accountable for, at least not until SnapSaved’s operators are found and punished for providing this service and then allowing the photos to leave their care.

PandoDaily

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