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The Dangers of Snapchat Being Used As A Sexting Platform

Updated: Apr 17

Snapchat, an instant messaging app, has taken the younger generation by storm, with majority using it as their main way of communication. Over the years, snapchat has increased its capabilities, from the original set up of only being able to see the image sent for a few seconds, to the sender being able to send pictures with no time limit and direct messages also being a common feature of the app.

Unfortunately, young people commonly use the platform to share indecent images of themselves which is illegal if the images are of a person under the age of 18 even if you take the photograph yourself. It is also illegal to request indecent images of a person under the age of 18. You can read more about the law around indecent images here.

If you want to report abuse the Child Exploitation and Online Protection team have information on reporting here. If you have been affected by this you but aren’t quite ready to report you can get support from the NSPCC here.

Snapchat introduced the photo vault feature called ‘My Eyes Only’ which gives users the option to save photos that are password protected; a supposed ‘additional layer of security’. However, some users share their passcode for this section which gives other person access to all the images saved in this section. This alongside basic account hacking and users using easy and guessable passcodes (e.g. 1234) has resulted in many young people being blackmailed for financial gain.

Young people should not share explicit photos of themselves online and often situations can spiral out of the control for the individual. Despite this, we do know it is still very common for young users to use Snapchat for this purpose so to help protect themselves, users are encouraged to not share their passcodes for their ‘My Eyes Only’ section as this will ultimately give blackmailers easy access and further leverage to use against the victim for further financial gain. In terms of preventing hacking, there are some easy top tips that although simple, are very effective in preventing social media account hackings.

For example, using 3 random words for a password means it is extremely difficult for it to be guessed, and when this is followed by two-step verification (2SV), getting into accounts becomes much harder. To make sure 2SVs effective, keep recovery information e.g., email addresses, mobile number etc, up to date.

One aspect of keeping accounts secured that is often overlooked, are privacy settings. On Snapchat, there are many options for privacy settings that should be looked at. ‘Who Can See My Location’ is important to change as due to a new feature called ‘SnapMaps’, if incorrectly chosen, any Snapchat user, even outside your friends list can view your location; an extremely dangerous setting if not secured properly. Another important one is Who Can Contact Me’. If ‘everyone’ is selected, then even users who are not on your friends list can contact you. Make sure ‘Only Friends’ is selected when settings on ‘Who Can View My Story’ are selected.

More on Snapchat privacy settings here.

Always try to follow these essential steps to secure all of your online accounts as this can prevent online data and accounts being breached. However, if your social media account is hacked, it is crucial to check the following steps within your email account that links to the account.


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