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A recent terms of service update by Snapchat is raising serious concerns among long time users. Snapchat is the app that promises to destroy your pictures a short time after you send them. The appeal of a system that lets you share whatever embarrassing moments you want with your friends without leaving any evidence behind has led to the rapid rise of Snapchat, which is now valued at $16 billion.

However, the promise of Snapchat has always fallen short of reality, and users with the technical knowledge can save pictures that were sent to them through the app. Snapchat also settled with the FTC over privacy violations and were found to be deceiving customers by claiming the pictures were deleted. However the new terms that Snapchat has released, which must be agreed to in order to continue using the service, have brought about privacy concerns above and beyond any of the previous scandals the company has faced.

The new terms essentially give Snapchat the right to store, display, and distribute a user’s pictures. This license is transferable, which means Snapchat can give the same rights to your pictures that they have given themselves to third-parties. Additionally, the terms grant them a perpetual license to use the names, likenesses, and voices of users in media distribution channels without compensation. The relevant section is reproduced here in its entirety so that readers can draw their own conclusions:

Many of our Services let you create, upload, post, send, receive, and store content. When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with.

But you grant Snapchat a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). We will use this license for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services; researching and developing new ones; and making content submitted through the Services available to our business partners for syndication, broadcast, distribution, or publication outside the Services. Some Services offer you tools to control who can—and cannot—see your content under this license. For more information about how to tailor who can watch your content, please take a look at our privacy policy and support site.

To the extent it’s necessary, you also grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice in any and all media and distribution channels (now known or later developed) in connection with any Live Story or other crowd-sourced content you create, upload, post, send, or appear in. This means, among other things, that you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snapchat or our business partners if your name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the Services.

While we’re not required to do so, we may access, review, screen, and delete your content at any time and for any reason, including if we think your content violates these Terms. You alone though remain responsible for the content you create, post, store, or send through the Services.

We always love to hear from our users. But if you volunteer feedback or suggestions, just know that we can use your ideas without compensating you.

Is this a privacy scandal, or are these new terms perfectly reasonable? Leave your comments below.


Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.