Learn All About Snapchat’s Privacy Policy

Posted on by David Lukic in Data Privacy January 08, 2021
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After learning about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, it should come as no surprise that anything you post online (even stuff you think is private) may not be. Social media has allowed us to connect with long-lost friends and relatives who we barely knew, but it has become a fortress of oversharing. All that information from your profile details to the pictures, videos, and comments you share, is vulnerable to not only hacking but also leaking out to other sources through completely legal channels. Rarely do we ever read the fine print in a privacy policy; we generally assume our privacy is being respected, but we are way off base there. Not so long Instagram was completely vulnerable to hackers, and almost no one knew about Instagram’s privacy policy. Hence why, it is crucial to understand Snapchat’s Privacy Policy

What is Snapchat?

what is snapchat

Snapchat is a trendy mobile app platform used by millions of people. Millennials especially like the format for chatting and video. The premise is that you take a video, picture, or send a text, and it only lasts for a few minutes before being deleted. It sounds good. It gives you the feeling that private stuff stays private, but does it really?

Snapchat is owned by Snap Inc. that calls itself a “camera company.”

What Information Does Snapchat Collect?

what information does snapchat collect

According to the nitty-gritty details of the Snapchat privacy policy, they collect information from three sources:

  • Information that you provide (such as your name, email address, etc.) when signing up.

  • Information they gather when you use their services (your pictures, videos, messages, likes, etc.).

  • Information from third parties, meaning partner websites and other companies owned by Snap Inc. 

Information You Provide to Snapchat

The information that you supply to Snapchat could include your name, email address, phone number, username, password, date of birth, and a picture or Bitmoji you choose as your avatar. If you make purchases through any of these services, you may also provide them with your credit or debit card details. Additionally, all your Snaps and Chats are recorded by the system, and anyone who receives them could potentially copy and save them offline. 

Information Snapchat Gets from Using Their Services

Everything you do online now is tracked, cataloged, and used in marketing and advertising. It’s no different with Snapchat. They are counting how many times you use a specific filter. They also know how often you watch a particular story or when you click on an ad you like. They are also monitoring your search activities. Additionally, Snapchat knows who you interact with, at what time, the number of messages sent between you, how you are connecting, and when you open and read a response.

If you create any content while using Snapchat, that is also data collected and linked to your profile. 

Snapchat collects an alarming amount of data regarding the device you are using. According to the privacy policy of Snapchat, everything included below is collected:

  • “Device Information. We collect information from and about the devices you use. For example, we collect:

  • information about your hardware and software, such as the hardware model, operating system version, device memory, advertising identifiers, unique application identifiers, apps installed, unique device identifiers, browser type, language, battery level, and time zone;

  • information from device sensors, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, microphones, and whether you have headphones connected; and

  • information about your wireless and mobile network connections, such as mobile phone number, service provider, IP address, and signal strength.

  • Device Phonebook. Because Snapchat is all about communicating with friends, we may—with your permission—collect information from your device’s phonebook.

  • Camera and Photos. Many of our services require us to collect images and other information from your device’s camera and photos. For example, you won’t be able to send Snaps or upload photos from your camera roll unless we can access your camera or photos.

  • Location Information. When you use our services, we may collect information about your location. With your permission, we may also collect information about your precise location using methods that include GPS, wireless networks, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and other sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compasses.”

If that wasn’t enough, they also collect vast storehouses of information from “cookies and other technologies, such as web beacons, web storage, and unique advertising identifiers, to collect information about your activity, browser, and device. We may also use these technologies to collect information when you interact with services we offer through one of our partners, such as advertising and commerce features.” 

They claim this data is used to tailor ads specifically to you and to enhance the app’s features later on. Finally, they also keep logs on your IP address, page views and visits, as well as other browser information. 

Information Snapchat Gets Third Parties

Snap Inc. owns a couple of other companies and thus shares information with them. Also, advertising partners share data about customers, and Snapchat admits to freely swapping your info for additional details with their ad partners, app developers, and publishers. If a Snapchatter uploads their contact list and you are on it, your information may be stored or sold by Snapchat that way too. 

What Does Snapchat Do With My Information?

Privacy Policy of Snapchat

So, what do they do with all this data they have collected and collated about you? Snapchat’s answer to that question is: “Provide you with an amazing set of products and services that we relentlessly improve.”

The real answer is in the details. Snapchat’s privacy policy outlines how they deliver that promise. They use your data to communicate with you, to personalize your experience, target advertising and features to your preferences and enhance the security and safety of their products (not sure how all this data collection and usage does that). They continue to explain that the information is used to verify your identity, enhance their services, and “* enforce our Terms of Service and other usage policies and comply with legal requirements.”

Who Does Snapchat Share Your Information With?

Who Does Snapchat Share Your Information With

Reading further down Snapchat’s privacy policy, we get to the section about who they share your information with. The list is pretty extensive, so let’s summarize it here.

  • Other Snapchatters.

  • Some of it gets shared with all Snapchatters, business partners, and the general public.

  • They share a good deal with their affiliates.

  • They also share a lot of information (purchased or swapped) with third parties. They are careful to mention in doing so; they comply with all state and federal laws pertaining to the sharing of information. 

Some third-party apps that are integrated into Snapchat also share your data. That is something to remember and think about when you hear of hacks and data exposure.

Snapchat also has a lengthy section detailing how long they keep your information and how they store it. You can pursue that at your leisure here.

How Can You Control Your Own Data on Snapchat?

Snapchat Privacy Policy

To give users control over their own data, Snapchat has provided a set of tools. This comes straight from privacy policy of Snapchat so that we don’t get any of the details wrong:

  • “Access, Correction, and Portability. You can access and edit most of your basic account information right in our apps. You can also use Download My Data to obtain a copy of the information that isn’t available in our apps in a portable format, so you can move it or store it wherever you want. Because your privacy is important to us, we will ask you to verify your identity or provide additional information before we let you access or update your personal information. We may also reject your request to access or update your personal information for a number of reasons, including, for example, if the request risks the privacy of other users or is unlawful.

  • Revoking permissions. In most cases, if you let us use your information, you can simply revoke your permission by changing the settings in the app or on your device if your device offers those options. Of course, if you do that, certain services may lose full functionality.

  • Deletion. While we hope you’ll remain a lifelong Snapchatter, if for some reason you ever want to delete your account, just go here to learn how. You can also delete some information in the app, like photos you’ve saved to Memories, Our Story submissions, and search history.

  • Advertising Preferences. We try to show you ads that we think will be relevant to your interests. If you would like to modify the information, we and our advertising partners use to select these ads, you can do so in the app and through your device preferences. Go here to learn more.

  • Communicating with other Snapchatters. It’s important to us that you stay in control over whom you communicate with. That’s why we’ve built a number of tools in Settings that let you indicate, among other things, who you want to see your Stories, whether you’d like to receive Snaps from just your friends or all Snapchatters, and whether you’d like to block another Snapchatter from contacting you again. Go here to learn more.”

Of course, this is Snapchat’s privacy policy as it stands today, but these things do tend to change over time. Be sure to check it often for any significant changes in the near future.

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