Snapchat: Worthless Security, No Content Filter, No Parental Supervision


What’s wrong with Snapchat you ask? I am so happy to enumerate the many (and they are many) problems with Snapchat. First of all, can I just say that I find these Snapchat security problems to be hilarious for a company whose main attraction is the promise of privacy for its users? I do.  In case you’re wondering what this security debacle is all about, back in December there was a massive security breach which allowed a hacker to download four million six-hundred thousand user’s phone numbers and usernames.  If you want more info, here’s a link to a Washington Post article.

So, that was a onetime thing and Snapchat is once again secure, right? Not so. The new security measures put in place were circumvented within thirty minutes and there’s no sign of a Snapchat rebuttal to the new hole in their security. (Here’s a link to that article if you’re interested). It’s so bad that a sixteen year old high school sophomore has decided that it’s his civic duty to help make Snapchat aware of it’s long list of weaknesses. Click here for that story.

Any who, Snapchat’s nonexistent security aside, parents still don’t have any way to monitor their children’s activities—incoming or outgoing. This is the app of choice for sending and receiving the non-parent-approved messages that you don’t want to show on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram history. The images are only visible for ten seconds before self-destructing and being deleted forever.


Well, turns out that the deleted forever part is as relative as Snapchat’s idea of security. There are apps which allow users to save the Snapchats that they want to, and you can always take a screenshot. No third party apps necessary. Plus, some hackers have found a way to intercept incoming messages and print a hard copy (Here’s a link). So, beware, if you think that everything you send out will disappear without a trace. There is a distinct possibility—nay, probability—of it coming back to bite you in the booty.  

And besides the sad truth that parents can’t monitor Snapchat activity, and the security being so lax that hackers don’t even find it challenging, there is no way to put a content filter on the images that are received. So even if little Johnny is in line for sainthood and you swear he can be trusted to use Snapchat responsibly, you can’t stop other people from sending him inappropriate images and messages that might scar his delicate psyche. Also, Snapchat promotes the spread of the pestilence known as selfies. But selfies are a problem for another post.

All around, this app is a parent’s nightmare, for those of us who happen to care about what our kids are involved in and are being exposed to. But on the bright side, given the sad state of Snapchat security, it’s very possible that an ambitious parent with a basic knowledge of code will bypass the Snapchat defenses in the near future and fix these problems for us. Just saying.

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About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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