The ‘Story’ of Snapchat


Photo by Marta Gil Vara

Molli Carr, Reporter

Today, a popular app that can send photos, videos, text, and drawings consumes the lives of teenagers and young adults. These photos and videos, known as “snaps” are sent to a list of recipients or set to your ‘story’. The user’s story” is an album of pictures and videos that all their followers can see. Users then set a time limit for how long recipients can view their snaps which can range from 1-10 seconds, and then removed from the recipients view. According to Forbes magazine, approximately 50 million people use snapchat currently.

23 year old Evan Spiegel, the innovator and owner of Snapchat, first came up with the idea in college. His fraternity brother, Reggie Brown is said to have given him the idea by telling Spiegel he wished there was an app that sent “disappearing pictures.” Originally, Snapchat began on a website, but was changed to a mobile platform.

According to Forbes magazine, Spiegel says, “At some point it was like, ‘Hey there’s a camera on your phone, wouldn’t that be easier?” In 2011, the beginning of the creation process, Spiegel received a lot of criticism for the “disappearing photo,” but he pushed through and came out with one of the most popular apps in 2015. Along the way he experienced minor flaws that had to be overcome such as screenshotting photos sent to other users. Spiegel fixed this flaw, and now mobile devices give notifications when a picture has been captured. J.J Colao of Forbes magazine says, “Snapchat narrows your world from Facebook “friends,” which range from long-forgotten schoolmates to nagging aunts, to your network of phone contacts. People, in other words, you actually talk to.”

Intimate and exclusive, Snapchat offers a clear difference from apps such as Instagram or Vine, and major websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Although groundbreaking, snapchat has also been involved in cases of Sexting, and even in a recent murder case. A headline on Fox CT’s website reads: “A recent snapchat message sparked a stabbing.”

“This intimacy that Snapchat brings was not meant to bring problems,” says Spiegel. Recent scandals have brought up the question of whether Snapchat pictures and videos are truly gone forever. More and more teens have an understanding of the saying, “what you post on the internet, stays on the internet,” but many teens do not know that “snaps” are saved in a secret classified folder that can be accessed if necessary.Snapchat’s blog says, “The image or video from the message is stored in a temporary folder in the device’s memory. This is sometimes in internal memory, RAM or external memory like an SD Card—depending on the platform and whether it’s a video or a picture Also, if you’ve ever tried to recover lost data after accidentally deleting a drive or maybe watched an episode of CSI, you might know that with the right forensic tools, it’s sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted. So… you know… keep that in mind before putting any state secrets in your selfies.”

“I like Snapchat because it is fun to send pictures to people rather than just texting all the time. They only have the picture for a little bit, and then it is gone forever. Snapchat is helpful because if you are trying to show something, you can show it with a picture. I got it originally because it is fun to Snapchat with your friends,” says Lewis Mills senior Kelly Gerrity.
Once an app becomes “popular” among teens and young adults, more and more people will download the app.

“I originally got Snapchat because it looked cool, but the first time I downloaded it, I deleted it because I found it pointless and annoying. But, I re-downloaded it because a few people told me to, and I can see other people’s stories and talk to people I don’t see very often,” say Lewis Mills senior Alyssa Lyga.

Currently, Spiegel works on keeping Snapchat up and running for a long time, and has even talked with Mark Zuckerberg about partnering with Facebook. There is a question of whether Snapchat will stay around for years to come, or if it will flicker out like Myspace or Mark Cuban’s According to Forbes magazine, Snapchat has one advantage: guaranteed engagement.

“Users must keep their fingers on a photo or video to view it–and that applies to any ads thrown their way too,” claims Forbes magazine. Snapchat can tell advertisers with absolute certainty whether their ads were viewed, a useful data point in the metric-driven world of digital advertising,” says Forbes contributor J.J Colao.