Jan 9

Find Friends Improvements

This morning we released a Snapchat update for Android and iOS that improves Find Friends functionality and allows Snapchatters to opt-out of linking their phone number with their username. This option is available in Settings > Mobile #.

This update also requires new Snapchatters to verify their phone number before using the Find Friends service.

Our team continues to make improvements to the Snapchat service to prevent future attempts to abuse our API. We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support. 

Love,

Team Snapchat

Jan 7

The Frame Makes the Photograph

A common thing we hear about social media today is that near-constant picture taking means not ‘living in the moment’. We should put the phone down and just experience life rather than worry ourselves with its documentation. This sentiment wrongly assumes that documentation and experience are essentially at odds, a conceptual remnant of how we used to think of photography, as an art object, as content, rather than what it is often today, less an object and more a sharing of experience. But not all social media are built the same, and I think we can use a distinction in social platforms: those that are based in social media versus those that are more fundamentally about communication.

Researcher Sherry Turkle discusses this in a recent New York Times op-ed, describing how very-famous comedian Aziz Ansari greets his fans on the street. They want a photo with him, some documentary proof, but he instead offers conversation about his work, leaving many fans unsatisfied. Turkle extrapolates this encounter as representative of how social media works in general, which, I think, is a significant misunderstanding of, and disconnection from, how people use social services today. Meeting a famous person is that special moment you may want proof of; conversation might be nice, but with a celebrity it will be a one-sided affair, they will likely not remember you or keep the conversation going at a later date. To compare everyday sociality online as akin to meeting a celebrity, as Turkle does, is inaccurate. Sure, meeting Ansari might be a situation where some desire a document more than conversation, but everyday digitally-mediated social interaction is often less about the media object but rather centered in a back-and-forth reciprocal dialogue, something different social services can encourage or preclude, depending how they’re designed.

The way to understand photography as it happens on social platforms is not to compare it to traditional photography, which is about creating an art object, but instead as a communicating of experience itself.  It’s less making media and more sharing eyes; your view, your experience in the now. The atomizing of the ephemeral flow of lived reality into transmittable objects is the ends of the traditional photograph, but merely the means of the social snap. As photos have become almost comically easy to make, their existence alone as objects isn’t special or interesting, rather, they exist more fluidly as communication; a visual discourse more linguistic than formally artistic. As such, social photography should be understood not as a remove from the moment or conversation but a deeply social immersion.

Turkle centers her analysis on selfies—those photos you take of yourself—arguing that we are trading the experience of the moment for its documentation. But when viewing selfies as not an abundance of self-portrait photographs but rather a sharing of experience, a communication of this is who I am, I was here, I was feeling like this, the commonality of selfies isn’t surprising or anti-social at all. Selfies, largely, are not recording the exceptionally rare events with famous people but exactly the opposite, the everyday moments that weave the fabric of life in all of its variety. An immaculately framed and perfectly lit photo of the beach makes for a good art object can be a pretty boring speech act given how that same shot multiplies in social feeds looking kind of the same. Instead, the selfie is the image-speak that is uniquely yours, no one else can take your selfie, it is your own voice-as-image and is thus especially intimate and expressive. It’s intensely in the moment and that’s exactly why we desire to share and view them.

***

Through this example of modern photo sharing, the distinction being made here is between social services that are primarily fixated on content versus communication. All social media is both, of course, but not all media focus on both equally. 

Today’s dominate social services are very concerned with the media object, the singular slice of experience that is pulled apart, made discrete, placed in a profile or stream, and given all sorts of metrics to quantify how many people appreciate it. More simply, dominant social media organize their sites and your experience around these media objects, be they photos, videos, chunks of text, check-ins, and so on. They are the fundamental unit of experience for you to click on, comment on, and share. A photo is posted, and the conversation happens around it, side-by-side, on the screen.

Alternatively, one key component of ephemeral social media—appreciated by its users but unexplored in most analyses—is that it rejects this fundamental unit of organization. There are no comments displayed on a Snap, no hearts or likes. With ephemerality, communication is done through photos rather than around them.

That media object, say, a photo, is the ends of dominant social media, but merely the means for services that are ephemeral, letting the media object fade away and making disposable the very thing that other services are built upon. Like the proliferating selfies, the actual photographic object is merely a byproduct of communication rather than its focus.

By diminishing the importance of the media object, by making it disposable, the emphasis is placed on communication itself. This goes a long way to explain the intimacy of a Snap versus a static image shared on another site. Other services, even their direct messaging components, are organized by and around persistent media objects. This is the media based sociality that gives social media its name.

An image becomes a photograph, in part, by having borders. The frame makes the photo. Tellingly, a Snapchat usually exists unframed, full-screen, more moment than an art object. Less than sharing experience-trophies and hoping communication happens around them, an ephemeral network leaves the art objects to fade in favor of focusing on the moments, the experience, the communication; more social than media, more social than network.

Perhaps the reason most of our dominate social media have been fixated on content, on media objects, is because content can be stored. Sociality is treated like information that can be indexed as search engines do to the Web. Photos and the rest are recorded, kept, organized into profiles to be measured and tracked and ranked. It made sense, that’s largely what people used desktop computers to do. Perhaps it was the rise of the mobile phone, where people do less information searching and more communicating that revealed this as a flawed model for organizing anything social. I’m concluding on a highly speculative note here, but it is certainly time to rethink sociality based so fundamentally on media objects.

One can still understand the appeal of the media object and why we continue to want to produce and consume those beautiful moments placed within a photo border. The band you are watching at their most intense, the sun setting, the family gathering, meeting a famous comedian: there’s certainly a place for the important photo, saved permanently. As I often argue, ephemeral and permanent social media work together rather than in opposition. Even Snaps are often turned into great pieces of art.

But as easy as it is to appreciate the importance of those special moments, it is equally easy to underestimate the seemingly banal moments in-between. Those who study the social world appreciate the complexities of the seemingly trivial. What is often thought to be the boring, mundane parts of everyday life are instead profoundly important. Minor social groomings make up the textures of our lives: saying hello, smiling, acknowledging each other, our faces, our stuff, and our moods from good to bad. Permanent social media have a difficult time capturing these important trivialities in a comfortable way. And this is exactly where ephemeral social media excels; built for everyday communication in its fleeting, often fun, always important nature. By not trying treating social life as just about capturing moments as trophies, ephemeral social media is more familiar, it emphasizes everyday sociality, and that is anything but trivial. 

Nathan Jurgenson, Researcher

Jan 2

Find Friends Abuse

When we first built Snapchat, we had a difficult time finding other friends that were using the service. We wanted a way to find friends in our address book that were also using Snapchat – so we created Find Friends. Find Friends is an optional service that asks Snapchatters to enter their phone number so that their friends can find their username. This means that if you enter your phone number into Find Friends, someone who has your phone number in his or her address book can find your username.

A security group first published a report about potential Find Friends abuse in August 2013. Shortly thereafter, we implemented practices like rate limiting aimed at addressing these concerns. On Christmas Eve, that same group publicly documented our API, making it easier for individuals to abuse our service and violate our Terms of Use.

We acknowledged in a blog post last Friday that it was possible for an attacker to use the functionality of Find Friends to upload a large number of random phone numbers and match them with Snapchat usernames. On New Years Eve, an attacker released a database of partially redacted phone numbers and usernames. No other information, including Snaps, was leaked or accessed in these attacks.

We will be releasing an updated version of the Snapchat application that will allow Snapchatters to opt out of appearing in Find Friends after they have verified their phone number. We’re also improving rate limiting and other restrictions to address future attempts to abuse our service.

We want to make sure that security experts can get ahold of us when they discover new ways to abuse our service so that we can respond quickly to address those concerns. The best way to let us know about security vulnerabilities is by emailing us: security@snapchat.com.

The Snapchat community is a place where friends feel comfortable expressing themselves and we’re dedicated to preventing abuse. 

Dec 27

Finding Friends with Phone Numbers

Occasionally computer security professionals and other helpful people reach out to us about potential bugs and vulnerabilities in Snapchat. We are grateful for the assistance of professionals who practice responsible disclosure and we’ve generally worked well with those who have contacted us.

This week, on Christmas Eve, a security group posted documentation for our private API. This documentation included an allegation regarding a possible attack by which one could compile a database of Snapchat usernames and phone numbers. 

Our Find Friends feature allows users to upload their address book contacts to Snapchat so that we can display the accounts of Snapchatters who match the phone numbers found in the address book. Adding a phone number to your Snapchat account is optional, but it’s helpful for allowing your friends to find you. We don’t display the phone numbers to other users and we don’t support the ability to look up phone numbers based on someone’s username.

Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers that way. Over the past year we’ve implemented various safeguards to make it more difficult to do. We recently added additional counter-measures and continue to make improvements to combat spam and abuse.

Happy Snapping!

Oct 14

Who Can View My Snaps and Stories

Two questions we get a lot are “do you keep all of the Snaps?” and “do you look at them?” An earlier blog post detailed how Snaps are stored and when they are deleted, so now with the introduction of Stories, we’d like to share a bit about access.

Storage

As mentioned in our previous blog post, Snaps are deleted from our servers after they are opened by their recipients. So what happens to them before they are opened? Most of Snapchat’s infrastructure is hosted on Google’s cloud computing service, App Engine. Most of our data, including unopened Snaps, are kept in App Engine’s datastore until they are deleted.

Retrieval

Is Snapchat capable of retrieving unopened Snaps from the datastore? Yes—if we couldn’t retrieve Snaps from the datastore, we wouldn’t be able to deliver them to their recipients desired by the sender. Do we manually retrieve and look at Snaps under ordinary circumstances? No. The ordinary process of sending Snaps to their recipient(s) is automated.

So what is a circumstance when we might manually retrieve a Snap, assuming it is still unopened? For example, there are times when we, like other electronic communication service providers, are permitted and sometimes compelled by law to access and disclose information. For example, if we receive a search warrant from law enforcement for the contents of Snaps and those Snaps are still on our servers, a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) obliges us to produce the Snaps to the requesting law enforcement agency. For more information, see the section of our Privacy Policy that discusses circumstances when we may disclose information.

Since May 2013, about a dozen of the search warrants we’ve received have resulted in us producing unopened Snaps to law enforcement. That’s out of 350 million Snaps sent every day. 

Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps.

Only two people in the company currently have access to the tool used for manually retrieving unopened Snaps, our co-founder and CTO, Bobby (who coded it), and me.

Okay, so what about Stories?

The biggest difference between Stories and Snaps is that unless deleted by the user, Stories are available for 24 hours and can be viewed repeatedly in that time. Unlike unopened Snaps, which are stored until viewed or for 30 days if not opened, Snaps that have been added to your Stories are deleted from our servers after 24 hours. Stories are subject to the same legal requirements for access and disclosure as described above for Snaps.

Community Guidelines

Our Terms of Use and Community Guidelines let you know the rules for using Snapchat. If we receive a report that a user is breaking the rules, we may review the Story they’ve posted and take appropriate action. This may include deleting a Story, showing a warning on an account, or even terminating an account.

Our Privacy Policy contains more information about our practices. We hope this post has given you a better sense of how we operate. We are constantly amazed by your creativity and enthusiasm. Thank you for building such an awesome community.

Micah Schaffer, Snapchat Trust & Safety

Oct 3

Surprise!

Every Snap received brings excitement and change. Today is no different.

We’re introducing Snapchat Stories. A totally new way to share your day with friends - or everyone. It’s fun and ephemeral, just like Snapchat.

Snapchat Stories add Snaps together to create a narrative. When you add a Snap to your Story it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for the new. Your Story always plays forward, because it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.

Your Story never ends and it’s always changing. The end of your Story today is the beginning of your Story tomorrow. And each Snap in your Story includes a list of everyone who views it.

Playing with Stories is the best way to understand it. So for the first time ever, we’re releasing an update simultaneously on iOS and Android. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Happy Snapping!

Love,
Team Snapchat

PS If you enjoyed the Goldroom video above, check out Smallpools and Guards! We’ve really enjoyed getting to know these awesome bands and we appreciate their support.

Sep 20

The Liquid Self

Social media doesn’t need to be what it has come to be. Social media is young, growth comes with pains, and we should keep questioning assumptions and push this new media to new limits. My first post here on the Snapchat blog, fittingly, questioned the assumed permanence of social media content. Permanent content is just one option, a choice with far-ranging implications, and it isn’t necessary. Here, I’d like to think about one major consequence of permanence: the social media profile.

The familiar social media profile is that collection of information about you and/or created by you, usually with some other people you’re connected to. Profiles structure identity in more or less constraining ways: real name policies, lists of information about our preferences, detailed histories and current activities all comprise a highly structured set of boxes to squeeze oneself into. Further, as our documented histories grow, the profile grows both in literal size as well as in weight on our minds and behaviors.

The social media profile attempts to convince us that life, in all its ephemeral flow, should also be its simulation; the ephemeral flow of lived experience is to be hacked into a collection of separate, discrete, objects to be shoved into the profile containers. The logic of the profile is that life should be captured, preserved, and put behind glass. It asks us to be collectors of our lives, to create a museum of our self. Moments are chunked off, put in a grid, quantified, and ranked. Permanent social media are based on such profiles, with each being more or less constraining and grid-like. Rethinking permanence means rethinking this kind of social media profile, and it introduces the possibility of a profile not as a collection preserved behind glass but something more living, fluid, and always changing.

***

Recording identity into categories on social media isn’t all bad and my goal here is not to argue they should disappear, but rather ask if they can be rethought, made into only an option and perhaps not the default? Can social media be created that doesn’t ask us to work ourselves into as many identity-containers given that humans and identity itself are fundamentally fluid and ever changing?

To get at this, let’s think for a moment about that common, and distinctly modern, cultural truism found in children’s stories, self-help books, and everyday advice asking us to be true to ourselves. We are to discover and remain faithful to that real, authentic version of who we are. It can often be good advice, but if you cringed at reading the word “authentic” any bit as much as I did typing it, then you already know that advice can leave little room for anything other than having just one self, regardless of time and place, and as such runs the risk of discouraging change. There’s another school of thought, one that understands identity as never solidified and always in flux. Instead of a single, unchanging self, we might consider a ‘liquid self’, one more verb than noun.

This is abstract, I know, and we won’t settle this philosophical debate on a blog, but the Internet has played an Interesting role in this tension between identity consistency and change. The tale is a familiar one by now: the Web arrived pregnant with the possibility of rethinking who we are by transcending geographic location, physical ability, as well as things like race, gender, age, even species [though, this detachment was always only a fantasy]. The New Yorker cartoon infamously joked that, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. As the story goes, however, the Web went mainstream and commercial. It got normal and somewhere along the way spontaneous anonymity became replaced by consistent identity. Now that everyone knows you’re a dog, it’s difficult to be anything but.

Social media has come to put a tremendous emphasis on our own identity, constantly recorded, always accumulating, stored, and presented back to us in an always-available profile of ourselves. Yes, Identity can be a source of importance, meaning, history, and pleasure, but, today, identity is rapidly piling up, exponentially increasing our own contact with ourselves. The profile photo, the background, what you like, what you do, who your friends are all lead to a never ending and always growing self-surveillance that’s paired with a healthy dose of being watched by others, too. What can be in one breath “self-expression” can be in another “self-policing” when who you are (and thus who you are not) become increasingly part of everyday life.

Self-expression, when bundled into permanent category boxes (digital or otherwise), has the danger of becoming increasingly constraining and self-restricting. Given that pressure to be “real”, authentic, and “true to yourself” as mentioned above, this massive evidence of one’s own self can become limiting and impede identity change. My worry here is that today’s dominant social media is too often premised on the idea (and ideal) of having one, true, unchanging, stable self and as such fails to accommodate playfulness and revision. It has been built around the logic of highly structured boxes and categories, most with quantifiers that numerically rank every facet of our content, and this grid-patterned data-capture machine simply does not comfortably accommodate the reality that humans are fluid, changing, and messy in ways both tragic and wonderful.

***

While social media is in its adolescence, it has yet to comfortably incorporate adolescence itself. By that I do not mean young people specifically, but instead the type of change and growth that is healthy regardless of age. The default of requiring social media users to permanently record and display themselves damages the invaluable importance of identity play. Put differently: many of us desire social media that is less like the mall and more like a park. Being far less standardized, constrained, and policed, yes, the park is somewhere you might do something a little dumb. Knees get scraped. But mistakes shouldn’t be fully avoided, which is what dominate, permanent social media demand, resulting in constant over-anxiety about what’s being posted. A healthy corrective to existing social media would be to create platforms that provide more room to behave without that behavior always defining who one is and what one can do. The idea of non-patrolled spaces for expression can be frightening, but a lack of such spaces is far more worrisome.*

Dominate social media has thus far taken a stand, a radical one in my opinion, for a version of identity that is highly categorized and omnipresent, one that forces an ideal of a singular, stable identity that we will continuously have to confront. It is a philosophy that doesn’t capture the real messiness and fluidity of the self, fails to celebrate growth, and is particularly bad for those most socially-vulnerable. I wonder how we can build social media that doesn’t always intensify our own relationship to ourselves by way of identity boxes. I think temporary social media will provide new ways of understanding the social media profile, one that isn’t comprised of life hacked into frozen, quantifiable pieces but instead something more fluid, changing, and alive.

Nathan Jurgenson, Researcher

*Note: The idea that a person should have a single, stable, true or authentic identity is most difficult for those who are more socially vulnerable. Having only one, unchanging identity may not seem all that problematic if who you are is not often stigmatized and penalized. However, there needs to be far more recognition that many people justifiably enjoy and need some social-closets where identity can be played with and not put on bright display because the potential consequences are greater. Race, class, sex, sexuality, ability, age, and all the other various intersections of power and vulnerability need to be part of the discussions around how social media is built, used, and improved.

Jul 19

Temporary Social Media

Technology has a way of making time simultaneously important and baffling. Communication technologies from speaking to writing to recording sound and sight disrupt temporality, mixing the past, present, and future in unpredictable new ways. This chaotic atemporality is part social media’s interest—or at least it’s what interests me. Specifically, the fact that the social media built so far has a particular, and peculiar, orientation to time: an assumed inevitability of recording most everything forever.

Most of our personal understandings of, as well as research on, social media presume that what we do online can be and likely is permanent. The photo posted today will be around tomorrow. Sometimes that is a satisfying thought: that we can one day look fondly upon this moment. Sometimes it’s the horrifying notion that something we are doing now will come back to bite us later. While there is some research on the deletion of social media content—for instance danah boyd’s terrific work on “white-walling” where users periodically delete their content—most of our understandings of social media assume content is mostly permanent. For instance, Rob Horning rightly points out, that the “self” is increasingly intertwined with data and social media documentation, arguing,

ubiquitous surveillance will be the fundamental fact about subjectivity from here on out. There will no sense of self that doesn’t take into account how the self has been or will be recorded, how that self will turn up as an artifact of online searches

“Recorded” and “artifact” are certainly appropriate terms now, with the former assuming the latter. But does recording always need to be seen as an inevitable future artifact? Do we need to continue to assume that social media content needs to be forever? I’m curious as to what happens to identity if social media emphasizes less enduring recordings and instead something more temporary. It would be identity less concerned with itself as a constant “artifact”, a less nostalgic understanding of the present as a potential future past and instead an identity a bit more of the present, for the present.

Simply, what if we rethought the whole idea of the assumed permanence of social media? What if social media, in all its varieties, was differently oriented to time by promoting temporariness by design? What would the various social media sites look like if ephemerality was the default and permanence, at most, an option?

It’s easy to underestimate the significance of injecting more ephemerality into social media. But to make social media more temporary fundamentally alters our relationships to online visibility, to data privacy, content ownership, the “right to forget.” It alters the functioning of social stigma, shame, and identity itself.

Beyond the ‘right to forget’, what about the possible erosion of the obligation to remember?

***

We think about how the high school student’s name will appear in search results years down the road, or how presidential candidates will run against their own online profiles of past. Indeed, that common declaration, “I’m so glad I didn’t have social media when I was young!” is ultimately a way of asserting how big a problem our present will be when excavated in the future. The message is often that we should be ashamed about what we are doing, that what we are creating now will bring stigma in the future.

It is deeply important to recognize the harm that permanent media can bring—and that this harm is not evenly distributed. Those with non-normative identities or who are otherwise socially vulnerable have much more at stake being more likely to encounter the potential damages past data can cause by way of shaming and stigma. When social media companies make privacy mistakes it is often folks who are not straight, white, and male who pay the biggest price. This is why movements like the right to be forgotten are so crucial.

There is, however, a tension here: we should be careful not to couch the possible benefits of temporary social media as promoting hiding from your past in shame. As I’ve argued before,

When we applaud not having records of our own embarrassing past, a document of how we’ve changed over time as individuals, we are equally celebrating the cultural norm that expects perfection, normalization, and unchanging behavior. What if more people wore past identities more proudly? We could erode the norm of identity consistency, a norm no one lives up to anyways, and embrace change and growth for its own sake. Perhaps the popularity of social media will force more people to confront the reality that identity isn’t and can’t be flawlessly consistent.

Framing data deletion as about hiding from one’s past might actually further the stigma of a little digital dirt, that being human and changing is something to be ashamed of. A healthier attitude towards our documented pasts would be to embrace how different we were before, even if there are significant mistakes. Change could be seen as not a flaw but a positive, as evidence of growth; an identity feature rather than a flaw.

***

I’d like to suggest a second a way of understanding temporary social media, not as hiding from the past but as embracing the present. I began writing about Snapchat in an essay for The New Inquiry this past February arguing that one thing ephemeral media like Snapchat does is change our everyday vision from using social media to focus on a series of future pasts to embracing the present for its own sake. While documenting our lives isn’t new, the types and degree is: social media, smartphones, and the rest of our proliferating technologies of documentation encourage people to view the world in the present as a potential photo, GIF, video, status update, check-in to be archived. And, importantly, social media in particular provides an audience for our ephemera, which is partly responsible for our willingness to document ourselves and others so thoroughly.  

This culture of documentation in the age of social media has emerged as particularly nostalgic. Because what we do on social media is so often quite permanent, this ‘documentary vision’ tends to be a sentimental gaze. The faux-vintage photo filters that have made recent digital snapshots look as if they were aged by time are a terrific example of the ‘nostalgia for the present’ that happens when almost any moment can be so perfectly remembered. Permanent social media encourages an understanding of the present as documentable. Conversely, temporary social media is anti-nostalgia, letting the present be good enough right where it is.

Because of this, temporary social media has a complicated relationship with memory. Part of the appeal of permanent social media is being able to look back and remember so much of our lives. But the logic that the more we save the more we remember might break down at some level of hyper-documentation, perhaps remembering things less if they are perfectly recorded. By offloading memories and some of the work of remembering to databases, we don’t really need to remember that vacation because it’s been so thoroughly stored in expanding digital photo albums; archives so numerous that they’ve become increasingly trivial to the point that you may rarely check back in on them at all. Alternatively, not recording something for posterity can mean remembering more. For example, the Snapchat countdown timer demands an urgency of attention; when you look fast, you look hard. The image might not be perfectly remembered but the story it tells and how you feel in that moment become most salient. Permanent social media fixates on the details of a photo, whereas temporary social media fixates on what it meant and what it moved within you.

In this way, temporary social media might also be an antithesis to social media triviality. Typically, to document something was to declare its worthiness of attention; but when documentation expands so exponentially, as is occurring today, the importance lessens. In the near future the near past will be less scarce because the current present is so abundant. Logging into social streams today often feels like a bazaar of banality, the everyday ephemera that populates these sites has deeply eroded any essential link between “document” and “importance”. When photographs were scarcer, photographic documentation inferred some level of importance whereas today the sight of someone photographing their burrito is a joke. The abundance of photographic documentation has created its own inverse: not photographing a moment often conveys importance, for instance, not snapping a picture of your food can demonstrate respect for the establishment and your company. In the age of hyper documentation, the photograph specifically and documentation in general are becoming less about importance and more about banality. Temporary social media creates some much needed scarcity, interrupting the cycle of documentary accumulation by not allowing them to amass. We’ve been hoarders of the evidence of our own lives; there is no important archeology when everything is saved.

***

Am I fetishizing the ephemeral, the present, the current moment? To a degree, yes. Social media is young, and I hope it grows out of this assumed permanence of our data. A corrective, an injection of ephemerality, is badly needed and overdue. The present doesn’t always need to be owned, held still and fixed; sometimes it might be best left alone to simply be what it is, letting more moments pass not undocumented and unshared, but just without enforced documentary boxes and categories with corresponding metrics filed away in growing databases. Instead, temporary social media treats the present as less like something that aspires to be curated into a museum but as something that can be unknown, unclassified, not put to work.

None of this is to say we should give up on more enduring documentation. Temporary social media does not really oppose durable social media. As I admit above, many of us cherish artifacts from the past. There is an appeal to a timeline of important life-events. But permanence shouldn’t be the standard, and perhaps not even the default. Let’s better consider time as a variable in a complex social media ecology where things aren’t so often shared forever. Yes, many existing sites have some deletion capabilities on their platforms, but what if more social media has ephemerality built in from the ground up?

These are the sorts of questions and issues I want to work on and encourage others to think more about. The Web doesn’t mean the end of forgetting; indeed, it has demanded it.

Nathan Jurgenson, Researcher

Jun 24

Recent Additions to Team Snapchat

When we launched Snapchat in September 2011, we were finally ready to share something we loved with the rest of the world. We had created a different way to communicate with our friends - it felt more personal, and it was a lot more fun. We hoped the rest of the world would love it too.

The response has been absolutely mind blowing. Less than two years later, Snapchatters are sharing over 200 million snaps every day. And thanks to our incredible and hardworking team, we’ve been able to support the growth of Snapchat with minimal overhead.

But in order to continue scaling while developing the Snapchat experience, we needed to build a bigger engineering team and figure out how to pay our server bills.

We’re fortunate to welcome IVP to Team Snapchat as the lead investor in our recent Series B financing. General Catalyst, Benchmark Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and SV Angel also participated in the round. We are thankful for their belief in the Snapchat community and we look forward to working with them as we continue to grow.

We have also added Michael Lynton as an independent board member. Michael is a remarkably talented and creative executive who believed in Snapchat way before it was cool. He is a tremendous role model and we are grateful for his time and energy.

Long story short – we’re committed to building a big company around an innovative and fun product. And we know we can’t do it without you. So thank you for your endless support and enthusiasm for Snapchat. It means the world to us.

There are some really exciting surprises around the corner…

Love,

Team Snapchat

Jun 22

iOS Update: Bug Fixes and More!

Team Snapchat has been growing by leaps and bounds this month. The arrival of summer has brought with it summer engineering interns and other new members of the team. We’re excited to be picking up the pace of development!

There’s a new iOS version available in the App Store today. It includes some critical fixes for bugs and crashes, so please download it if you’ve been experiencing issues.

We’re also trying out something new in this release. As you may know, Snapchat is for teens and adults— children under the age of 13 are not allowed to create accounts. The previous iOS update introduced age-gating, in which we asked people their age on the registration screen and didn’t allow them to proceed if the age entered was under 13. This was a pretty standard way of handling things, but it didn’t provide a very good experience. So now, in addition to age-gating, we’ve decided to try something a little different.

In the new iOS version, kids under the age of 13 are able to fill out the registration form, however their user information is not sent to us and an account is not created. Instead they are able to use “SnapKidz” a version of Snapchat that includes an interface for taking snaps, captioning, drawing, and saving them locally on the device, but does not support sending or receiving snaps or adding friends. We’re trying it out first on iOS and if all goes well, we hope to include it in an upcoming Android update.

While we were at it, we updated our Privacy Policy. We hope that the new version provides more detailed information about our practices. Don’t worry though, we haven’t changed the way we handle your information, including storing and deleting snaps (see our earlier blog post for details on that).

We also tweaked our Terms of Use to account for SnapKidz and a few other things that needed updating. We’ll be editing the Terms of Use from time to time as we continue to make it easier to read and understand.

Happy Snapping!

Team Snapchat

Snapchat is lovingly built in Los Angeles, California.