Snapchat: privacy and data security


As a millennial, I am a user of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and many other social media networks. Thanks to them, day after day, I am able to share a wide range of information. However, I do not embrace a fully public approach to social media. I do not want everybody to know everything that I post; rather, I take an array of steps to restrict and prune away details from my profiles. With the wide range of steps that I take to ensure that my data is safe and private and the respective security promises of the companies that manage these social media sites, I would hope that my information does not get leaked around for everybody to see and use in any way. However, as we shall see, this is not the case.

Out of all the social media networks that I use, I have chosen to write about Snapchat because it reflects a much greater problem that we are continuously encountering with the continuous expansion of information technologies. The problem is the promise of companies to keep our information and our privacy safe from people that we do not want to share it with.

As we all know, Snapchat is a vanishing photo and video sharing app that was created in 2011 and took off in 2013 to become one of the hottest apps to have on our phones. It is this “vanishing” part that makes the app feel more secure than others where our content is uploaded and saved, such as Facebook.

However Snapchat has had increasing problems with the nature of their application as well as with privacy. First, there has been an increasing use of the app as a medium for sexting. Second, there have been increasing reports about third party apps leaking Snapchat pictures that were supposed have “vanished”.

As we may be able to see, Snapchat poses serious ethical issues about privacy, which I plan to address from a consequentialism point of view. After, I plan on arguing that with the use of social contract and virtue ethics we could avoid such situations.

Book: Ethics for the information age by Michael J Quinn.


5 thoughts on “Snapchat: privacy and data security

  1. Wow. ^This comment.

    I think this will be interesting. It’s ambitious to analyze this with three different ethical theories, and while I think you could do it I believe a paper could easily lose some of its punch if your not very deliberate about making a clear statement. You could just straight up have a section of analysis for each of the three, and then your personal thoughts in the end, but I don’t know how powerful that will be. I think it might help to consider the fact that Jordi calls this paper a response to whatever article we choose, so maybe by taking some clear ideas and points from your article(s), you could try to answer why we are using this social medium in this way? Is it intrinsically unhelpful? Etc.


  2. Also, I think it is worth questioning the relative balance of power in these relationships between users and firms. It often seems that the burden of protecting one’s data is on the consumer/user. Imagine if this standard was used in the political sphere… I have a right to not be illegally searched by the police, but if I don’t remember to lock the doors just so and buy a fancy security system, well, that is my fault. Or, to come back to goods, if we have laws on food health, but when I eat some smoked salmon, I have to test for 15 kinds of toxins in my food and if I forget, well, you were told that food can be dangerous.

    This may be more for the policy paper, but I just thought it worth stepping back and looking at the underlying balance of power and how it compares to other analogous contexts.


  3. Josiah is right. Too ambitious with your ethical approach. This paper is about depth, not breadth.

    I actually think deontology, as in rights and duties, may be a better lens with which to examine Snapchat. @myc001 is also doing something with privacy, I think.


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