Snapchat to users: Beware of third-party apps

Snapchat to users: Beware of third-party apps

Snapchat today issued a statement regarding the photo leaks that occurred last Friday. This is the second statement from the company, designed to dispel worries that its servers had been hacked.

In the blog post, Snapchat clarifies that there are third parties who have gained access to the app’s API, but are not supported by the company.

According to Snapchat, there isn’t a public API because it takes time to create an “open and trustworthy” third-party application ecosystem, and that in the meantime it’s working with Apple and Google to take down third-party applications. That won’t stop these apps from being available outside official app stores though.

The company says while it’s excited by developer interest in the its platform, it will take its time to build the right public API. Still, it makes you wonder why it seems so easy to access the current ‘private’ API in the first place. By its own admission:

When you give your login credentials to a third-party application, you’re allowing a developer, and possibly a criminal, to access your account information and send information on your behalf.

It’s possible Snapchat initially put up with unauthorized apps to help grow the user base, but that seems to be backfiring.

The other problem with the current approach is that the person sending a Snap has no idea whether the recipient is using a third-party app, leaving anyone open to haven their images compromised unknowingly. Snapchat simply dissuading its users from third parties isn’t really enough when the sender can’t control the person on the other end.

Because of their ephemeral nature, Snapchat users naturally expect their images to enjoy greater privacy than on other messaging platforms. Granted, it’s unreasonable to think your images will ever be fully safe once shared – a camera will get past any self-destruct timers – but companies can also do more to keep their users safe.

For Snapchat, that could start with keeping their private API, well, private. While users need to exercise caution, it’s also up to Snapchat to not give them a false sense of security.

➀ Third-Party Applications and the Snapchat API [Snapchat Blog]

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