Snapchat Review

So far in our Snapchat course, we have told you about what Snapchat is and how it works. But maybe you’re not one for flash-in-the-pan information; you want the detailed points about the service. Here are some of the good and not-so-good things about Snapchat that we’ve found at TechBoomers.

Pros

  • Privacy-conscious – Snapchat takes a bit of the worry out of leaving a paper trail from your social interactions for someone to snoop on.  Whenever a user views something that you sent them (or you view something that they sent you), the content will automatically delete itself after a certain short amount of time.
     
  • Lots of different ways to make friends – You can add people to converse with through looking up their user name, checking them against your address book, scanning their Snapchat ID code, or even just looking for people nearby who want to become Snapchat friends.
     
  • Send creative text, video, or photos – Take a picture or record a video, and set how long you want your friends to be able to view it.  Spice it up with emojis, a caption, or even some impromptu doodling.  Or, if you feel that text is enough, start a chat with someone and write them a short message.  Then send it off!
     
  • Share the “story” of a day in your shoes – “Stories” function allows you to show off what goes on in a 24-hour period of your life.  “Snaps” that you add to this function stay up for 24 hours, and your friends can view them as many times as they want!

Cons

  • Made for mobile – Snapchat is meant to work on mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers.  Some people have found a way to make it work on desktop computers, but it requires the use of third-party programs.
     
  • Moments are fleeting – Make sure that you’re really ready to view a snap or chat before you open it, because once it expires, you likely won’t be able to see it again!  By the same token, make sure that any snap or chat gets its point across the first time!
     
  • Maintain a bit of discretion – Just because Snapchat is privacy-conscious doesn’t mean that it’s totally private.  People could still save content that you send them by taking a screenshot, taking a picture with a camera, or using a third-party program.  Always be aware that what you send could be saved and even shared, and post accordingly.

The bottom line: 7/10

Snapchat is a creative way to communicate with the people you care about. It’s easy to add contacts, and the interface for sending content to your friends (and receiving it from them) is relatively straightforward and easy-to-use. In addition, the fact that most of what you send or receive gets deleted once you (or any other users) have seen it eases a bit of the anxiety when it comes to protecting your privacy and public image online.

Snapchat is not without flaws, however. It primarily only works on mobile devices, and only if other people you know are using it. Some people may not like the convention of deleting messages after they’re viewed, preferring to have a record that they can share with friends and family. And although Snapchat tries to be privacy-conscious, there are ways to preserve messages sent over it before they get deleted.

 

That’s about it for our review of Snapchat. If you’re looking to get started right now, head over to our next tutorial, which will teach you how to download and install the app, then move on to our tutorial on how to use Snapchat.


Is Snapchat Safe and Private?

Now that you’ve learnt what Snapchat is and how it works, you may be looking for more information about it. Before you start using any social media or messaging app, it’s important to look into whether it’s safe to use. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about Snapchat safety and privacy, give you some safety tips, as well as show you how to change your privacy settings.

Is Snapchat safe?

Snapchat is a bit safer than certain other popular social media websites and social networking tools, because it only allows people to view content for a limited amount of time. However, there are certain ways to get around this system, one of the simplest of which is to take a screenshot of content.

Snapchat’s system for automatically discarding messages after a certain amount of time can also work against its safety. It makes it tough to build a paper trail of evidence against someone who is sending snaps or chats meant to threaten, harass, or otherwise annoy another user (or users). Rest assured, though, Snapchat does not tolerate this sort of behaviour, and there are steps that you can take to protect yourself from people who engage in it, and also point them out to Snapchat. We’ll get to those below.

Top 5 safety tips for Snapchat

1. Make sure that your account is used by you and you alone.

Your account is meant to be used by you, so don’t let anyone else use it. Log off when you’re done using the app, and be sure to create a strong, unique password for your account. See our tutorial on how to make a strong password for useful password tips.

2. Abide by Snapchat’s community guidelines.

You know your friends better than we do, so don’t send them content that they wouldn’t like. In general, don’t send content over Snapchat that:

  • is pornographic or sexually suggestive (especially when minors are involved)
  • is intentionally offensive, insulting, or threatening toward the recipient
  • invades someone else’s privacy
  • deceives someone into thinking that you’re somebody else
  • depicts you or anyone else engaging in dangerous or harmful activity
  • depicts any sort of illegal activity
  • threatens any person’s safety – even as a joke

3. Use discretion when sending content over Snapchat.

Our number one tip to remember for using any kind of social networking service is this: once you share something, it’s by-and-large out of your control. Although the app deletes snaps and chats a short time after they’re viewed, there is nothing to stop someone from taking a screenshot of a snap or chat. They can do this through their mobile device’s internal mechanism, an external camera, or even third-party software.  So before you post something ask yourself: “would it come back to haunt me if somebody kept this, and perhaps shared it?”

4. Use your privacy settings to control who can view your content.

You can adjust settings that allow you to receive snaps from – and have your “story” viewed by – anyone on Snapchat, or just people whom you have registered as “friends.” You can also block certain friends from viewing your “story,” if you want. See the section below to learn how to adjust them.

5. If someone is making you uncomfortable, block and report them.

In the unfortunate event that another user repeatedly sends you chats or snaps that are upsetting (or at least just annoying), you can stop them from sending you snaps or chats, or from viewing your “story.”  You can also report their behaviour to Snapchat, which may result in them being banned from using the app (either temporarily or permanently, depending on the nature and frequency of their offence or offences).

For instructions on how to block a user on Snapchat, click here.

To report a user, go to their Safety and Abuse section, click Report Spam, Report a Safety or Abuse Issue, or Report Impersonation (depending on the user’s offence); fill out the form, and then click Send.

How private is Snapchat?

Snapchat is somewhat more private than other popular social networking tools. Users can set the amount of time that other users are allowed to see the content that they send. In addition, users can choose who can send them content, or view the snaps that they put into their “stories.”

Note, however, that (as we mentioned above) other users can save “chats” that you send them, or take screenshots of “snaps” that you send them. In addition, Snapchat will keep snaps and chats that haven’t been viewed for up to 30 days before deleting them.  Also keep in mind that snaps added to your “story” will not expire until 24 hours have passed, and can be viewed an unlimited amount of times in that period (unless you manually delete them).

How to adjust your Snapchat privacy settings

  1. Turn on your mobile device, tap Snapchat to open it, and log in.
     
  2. Tap the ghost icon in the top-middle of the main screen to access your profile.

    Snapchat menu icon
     

  3. Tap the gear icon in the top-right corner of the profile screen to access your settings.

    Snapchat settings icon
     

  4. The two settings that you want to look at are the ones under the “Who Can…” heading.

    Snapchat Privacy Settings menu

    Tap either Send Me Snaps or View My Story to control who can send you content or view the snaps in your “story”, respectively. For both options, you can choose Everyone (i.e. anyone who knows your user name) or My Friends (i.e. users whom you have added as “friends” on Snapchat).

    For View My Story, you can also choose Custom. This is basically the same as My Friends, but on the next screen, you can tap the check box beside one of your friend’s names to block them from viewing your story.

 

And that’s our advice on how to use Snapchat as safely and privately as possible! If you don’t think the app is quite right for you, have a look at our article on the top 5 apps like Snapchat to see if one of those would be better for your needs.


What Snapchat is and How to Start Snapping Today

One of the risks of using social media is that someone connected to you ends up seeing something that they weren’t meant to see. Usually, this happens when they become friends with you on a social network, and out of curiosity end up looking through your content history, and finding something that they feel is unbecoming of you. This has been a particularly prevalent problem among younger people. 

You may have heard some of the horror stories of teens and young adults adding their boss, teacher, or prospective employer as a friend on social media. Then, they got fired, disciplined, or turned down from a job because they had posted something like an angry, offensive rant, or photos of themselves getting drunk or doing other inappropriate things at a party. It didn’t matter that those things were likely only meant for their friends in the spur of the moment; the paper trail on their social media account came back to haunt them.safe

This mattered to the Stanford University students who made Snapchat, though. They were tired of seeing people stressing out over trying to craft the perfect image of themselves on social media, and getting burned for sharing potentially unflattering content in the heat of the moment. They wanted to create a social media environment where information wasn’t permanent, and where people had the freedom to be a little crazy, spontaneous, imperfect, and above all… honest. That’s where they came up with the idea for Snapchat.

So, what exactly is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social messaging app for mobile devices that allows the exchange of photos or videos (“snaps”), as well as text messages (“chats”). Snapchat’s defining feature is that the majority of its content deletes itself after being viewed, and/or after a relatively short amount of time. It is mostly used by younger people, such as high school students or college/university students.  However, it is becoming popular among older adults as well, as a way to more privately share messages and pictures with their loved ones.

How Does Snapchat Work?

Snapchat works in a way that allows users to communicate with one another in a private and discreet way. Anything that is shared through Snapchat will automatically disappear, so users don’t have to worry about a “paper trail” of their actions on the Snapchat app like they might with other social media platforms.

When you send a picture or video, whoever you send it to can open it and view it for up to 10 seconds before the message disappears. If you choose to share a picture or video on your “story,” your friends will have the chance to view it for 24 hours before it disappears.

5 Ways to Use Snapchat

1. Find friends to communicate with through Snapchat.

There are plenty of different ways to add contacts to share with.  You can search for people by their user name, have Snapchat look through your device’s address book, scan someone’s Snapchat identity code, or even add someone who’s looking friends nearby!

Search for friends on Snapchat

2. Send a quick photo or video that deletes itself after it’s been opened.

Take a picture or record a video, and then send your “snap” to your friends!  You can choose how long that you want others to be able to see it, and when that time is up… poof!  No trace of your content!

Send photo or video on Snapchat

3. Dress up your picture or video “snaps” with special effects.

Express yourself through your snaps!  Decide whether or not they’ll have audio, add a caption or emoji, draw on them, or apply an artistic filter.  Do whatever you think will help get the point of your message home, because your recipient can only see it once!

Add special effects to snaps

4. Send text messages that also self-destruct after being opened.

Think that words are enough to get your meaning across? Pick a friend to send a message to, type in what you want to say, and then send away! When they receive the message, it will be gone as soon as they close the chat window.

Learn how to do all of the functions mentioned in ways 2-4 with our how to use Snapchat tutorial here.

Send text chats on Snapchat

5. Share what a day in your life is like with “stories.”

You can also add your “snaps” to your “story” to show people what you do throughout the course of a 24-hour period. Unlike regular “snaps”, ones added to your “story” stay there for at least 24 hours, and your friends can view them as many times as they want! You can also check out stories from other famous companies and organizations!

Snapchat Stories menu

Is Snapchat Safe to Use?

Snapchat is safer to use than other social media platforms, since anything shared on the app automatically disappears after a certain period of time. Although your picture, video, and text snaps can only be viewed for up to 10 seconds, keep in mind that people could potentially screenshot anything you send them on Snapchat.

To increase your safety on Snapchat, make sure your privacy settings align with your own comfort level. To learn more about how to stay safe while using the app, have a look at our Snapchat safety article.

Does Snapchat cost anything?

Snapchat is free to download and use. You can sign up for an account and use all the features of the app, 100% free! At one time, Snapchat used to charge users to access additional filters, but they have since made these features free by increasing the number of ads and sponsored content shown within the app.

History of Snapchat

Snapchat was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown. In spring 2011, Spiegel presented the idea for a selfie app that would let users send images that would disappear after being opened. Spiegel et al first launched the app with the name “Picaboo” in July 2011, and relaunched it 2 months later with the name Snapchat.

Since then, Snapchat has skyrocketed in popularity. More features have been added, including the ability to post “stories,” and the ability to add filters and stickers to your photo and video messages. In 2014, the ability to make voice and video calls was introduced. It is now one of the most popular messaging apps available.

Snapchat Pros and Cons

There are some good and some bad things about Snapchat. Let’s go over some of them now to give you an idea of whether it’s right for you.

Some pros of Snapchat are that it lets users interact privately, which is appealing to those who are concerned about their image on social media. Since everything shared the app automatically disappears after a certain amount of time, you don’t have to worry about anyone snooping on your interactions.

There are some not-so-great thing about Snapchat as well. One of them is that the app is made for mobile devices, so you can’t use it on your desktop or laptop computer. Some people also may not enjoy the fact that messages disappear so quickly – if you’re not ready, a snap could disappear before you’ve had the chance to take it all in.

Snapchat Competitors

Maybe Snapchat doesn’t sound right for you. If that’s the case, don’t worry – we can suggest some other apps like Snapchat that work for you! If security and privacy are most important to you, Wickr or Dust might be good choices. If you want something like Snapchat that you can use on your desktop computer, try out Telegram. Other great alternatives include WeChat and Clipchat. You can learn more about all of these websites and apps in our apps like Snapchat article here.

 

Well, that’s a short introduction to what Snapchat is about, and what it can do! Be sure to check out the rest of our Snapchat course, which provide tips on how to protect your privacy, explain how to use the mobile app, and much more! Happy snapping!