From the very start, pitched as a Greek life dream, Snapchat lured in users by promising their racy pics would vanish after ten seconds. But, as all tweens know, it's easy to get around that, and now Snapchat is settling with the federal government—a cute slap on the wrist.
In marketing the service, Snapchat has said that its messages "disappear forever." But in its complaint, the commission said the messages, often called snaps, can be saved in several ways. The commission said that users can save a message by using a third-party app, for example, or employ simple workarounds that allow users to take a screenshot of messages without detection.
Under the terms of the settlement, Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting how it maintains the privacy and confidentially of user information. The company will also be required to start a wide-ranging privacy program that will be independently monitored for 20 years. Fines could ensue if the company does not comply with the agreement.
Case in point, from the FTC's complaint (read in full below!):
The FTC describes this disappearing act, the fundamental draw of Snapchat, as "deceptive." Guaranteed ephemerality is a marketing maneuver Snapchat won't be able to lean on anymore.
It's almost as if these guys should have taken the $3 billion when they had the chance—but on the bright side for Evan Spiegel, at least the FTC remains toothless.