Snapchat’s Ethical Implications (Assignment 1)

Every social media platform’s “terms of service” varies, but one commonality with all is that they are centered on protecting the brand name. No social media platform is willing to risk their reputation and value based off the snaplogoactions of its users. Therefore, as users, we are required to accept each platform’s “terms of service” in order to use their product. As this is a valid approach to any business, many times these terms are lengthy, confusing and not read by the user.

In looking further into the whole aspect of these “terms,” I’m going to dig into “Snapchat.” A social media photo application that is home to over 30 million users. The app let’s you send “temporary” images, video and text to fellow users that vanish in seconds after opening, leaving no trace of the content. Snapchat’s “Terms of Use” is relatively lengthy, but there are some ethical implications that are associated with it.

Explicit messages have been a prominent and controversial issue with Snapchat. There is nothing in the terms of use that entirely prohibits these types of acts. This has led to much scrutiny of the app, which has been labeled as a hotspot for “sexting.” This could directly prevent the best interest of users because this type of shared content isn’t deregulated. This is a risk that Snapchat has taken with their service. Anytime this type of material can be distributed, it puts the users and the receivers of the content at risk.


Another problematic ethical implication with the app is the regulation that prevents users from taking any
pictures of individuals without their consent. Many images that are sent, in fact do show other people, and at times, those are people who might seem out of the ordinary to the person taking the picture. “Snapchat Leaked” and similar sites are home to many images that were taken without consent. Nothing has been done to people
who do this, and even though Snapchat prevents it in their terms, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears (or eyes in this instance).


Snapchat has recently settled with the FCC over the guarantee of content “disappearing forever,” to which 4.6 million phone numbers usernames were exposed. In an app whose selling point is vanishing content, it was still exposed. This brings into question the safety of using the product and whether or not Snapchat’s integrity has been compromised for good.



4 thoughts on “Snapchat’s Ethical Implications (Assignment 1)

  1. Hi Gavin,

    Very interesting post. I’m honestly shocked by the poll that you posted. I would have assumed that the percentage of Snapchat users who sext would have been much higher. I hope it’s because people are recognizing the negative impact that sexting can have, and not because participants didn’t want to admit to risqué behavior.

    It’s also very surprising that Snapchat’s terms and conditions don’t prohibit users from posting explicit images, especially since the social network has faced a lot of scrutiny for that specific reason. I know several people who use Snapchat solely for sending explicit pictures to their significant others, and they do that because they believe that the image really does disappear forever. I’m guessing they probably would reconsider if they knew that images stick around and can potentially be leaked.

    It seems like there are a whole lot of ethical implications that Snapchat isn’t really considering, or doesn’t care to correct.

  2. Even though the #’s on the graph in relation to sexting from text message or snapchat, is that less people use snapchat. I have a feeling if every person who texted, also had the app. The #’s for sexting on Snapchat would increase immensely. I was surprised they didn’t have anything directly preventing this, but I have a feeling if they did, they would lose a lot of users.
    They really don’t care to correct these implications. I think as long as they are abiding by the law, then that is all they care about.
    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi Gavin,

    I’m glad you chose to cover Snapchat; it’s ethical implications are concerning given how many minors use the app and how many people don’t really know how secure the information is. Do you happen to know the minimum age you need to be to use the app? I think that Snapchat tries to protect itself by turning a blind eye to the explicit materials or the fact that Snaps can be screenshotted and whatnot. Kind of like how Tinder denies that people use it for hooking up, because it can’t help what purpose its users use the app for.

    • Technically 13 or older w/ permission. They also have created a separate platform called SnapKidz, made for users under 13. I haven’t looked into it too much, but do recall reading that. You’re exactly right, the app makers can’t entirely control what people use the app for. And if the app is used for something other than its intentions, but is still being used by a lot of people, they turn a blind eye to it.
      Thanks for commenting!

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