Snapchat Without Violence Guide

THE BASICS

What youth on Snapchat need to know


How does Snapchat address Cyberviolence?

Snapchat Support wants users who experience harassment or bullying to block the person and report it to them. They also suggest users experiencing harassment to check out ConnectSafely's information on cyberbullying. While this is a good start Snapchat needs to take a more active role in intervening in issues related to cyberviolence so that responsibility does not rely solely on users experiencing online gender based violence.


Terms of Service

You:

  • Are only allowed one account per person.
  • Must be 13-years-of-age or older.
  • Must have parent’s permission to use the platform if you are under 18.
  • Must not harass people.
  • Must not use trademarks or other content that do not belong to you.
  • Must not share spam.*
  • Must not do anything illegal using Snapchat or break Snapchat’s user rules.
  • Must not steal Snapchat’s data*.[1] 
  • Must not post hateful, “pornographic,” or “not safe for work” content.
  • Are not allowed to make money off of Snapchat. This means using the platform to buy or sell any goods, content or products in order to make a profit.[2] 

*Spam is any unsolicited—usually irrelevant or inappropriate—message sent on the internet to a large number of recipients

*Data mining is using an application or platforms data to extract previously unknown, interesting patterns such as groups of data records, unusual records, and other important and often private and sensitive user information.


Snapchat...

  • According to Snapchat delete is their default! Which means most messages sent through the Snapchat application will be automatically deleted once they have been viewed or have expire. However, Snapchat may still owns and store your photos even after they dissapear. 
  • Does not own your content. However, becoming a Snapchat user gives the platform permission to use your intellectual property[3] —photos, videos, etc—for free. [4] 
  • Reserves the right to delete content it does not approve of.
  • Does not check all posts for content violating its Community Guidelines.
  • Is not responsible for your data plan or phone bill.
  • Is allowed to change its user agreement without informing you.
  • Does not have to compensate you if it uses your content.
  • Has access to your camera, microphone and location unless you otherwise tell it not to. All Snaps require access to your phones camera.

*Spam is any unsolicited—usually irrelevant or inappropriate—message sent on the internet to a large number of recipients

*Note [4]: This means Snapchat does not have to pay you royalties or any compensation to use the content you upload to the platform. Even if you delete content, Snapchat may have backup copies or access to content that has been re-shared by other users and not deleted yet.[5]


Learn more about Snapchat’s Community Standards.

LEARN MORE: When Does Snapchat Delete Snaps and Chats?


Some things we think Snapchat is doing well to tackle cyberviolence!

These recommendations were created in collaboration with the Purple Sisters Youth Advisory Committee of Ottawa.

  • Snapchat published its first inaugural transparency report, detailing the number of requests for user information from law enforcement and how Snapchat responded to them.

  • Snapchat's Terms of Service is written without much of the legal jargon companies frequently use to obscure some of their unethical practices.

  • Snapchat defines threats within different categories of violence, suicide, hate speech and other.

  • It is difficult to change your Snapchat username. This can be a good thing since perpetrators and online harassers often use anonymity and fake profiles to evade accountability.

  • Snapchat added expansions to the companies ‘bug bounty’ program that rewards coders for finding vulnerabilities within their system!

  • Snapchat is working to completely shutdown third-party apps & has now further fortified its APIs to block the access of those third-party apps.

  • When you open a link, Snapchat uses information from Google’s Safe Browsing service to check if the link is associated with harmful activity.


Key recommendations for Snapchat on tackling cyberviolence

These recommendations were created in collaboration with the Purple Sisters Youth Advisory Committee of Ottawa.

Snapchat should. . .
  • Diversify its leadership—including expanding opportunities for women and LGBTQ+ people.

  • Expand the definition of “harassment” to explicitly address online gender-based violence, homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, ableism, sizeism and classism.

  • Hold online abusers better accountable for their actions by keeping repeat offenders and harassers off the platform.

  • Expand the definition of “harassment” to include online gender-based violence.

  • Make it easier to permanently delete a users’ account—including making information on how to delete an account easier to find and read as well as the ability to delete your account in-app.

  • Allow and encourage users to report abuse and harassment on behalf of others. Bystander intervention is key to preventing and ending cyberviolence.

  • Take proactive steps to monitor and filter content for abuse or harassment, as well as allowing users to set up their own filters for content they do not wish to see.

  • Provide users the ability to block other users regardless of whether or not the user they wish to block has already blocked them.

  • Ensure the teams responding to reports of cyberviolence have training on gender-based violence issues informed by experts in the field—including frontline workers and survivors of cyberviolence.

  • Prioritize reviewing reports related to harassment or abuse.

  • Make terms of service—particularly policies on data use—easier to find and easier to read.

  • There is no official Snapchat client for Windows or Blackberry devices, so if you’re accessing Snapchat with one of those devices, you are using an unauthorized third-party application.

  • Change evidence requirements to reflect the reality of cyberviolence—including allowing screenshots to be used in evidence.

  • Snapchat is unable to provide copies of Snaps to Snapchatters. 'Delete is our default'. Which means opened or expired Snaps typically cannot be retrieved from Snapchat's servers by anyone, for any reason. This can cause issues for survivors building evidence in a cyberviolence case.

  • Ensure location services are “off” as the default and make it clearer to users when location settings are on.

  • If users want cool photo filters for their snapchats, they have to hand over their location data. This is an issue for people experiencing cyberviolence and gender based violence online as it exposes confidential and vulnerable information. 

  • Adopt & advocate for Open Certificate Transparency Monitoring, which offers the ability to know the certificates a CT-enforcing browser will trust. This gives social media platforms more capacity to monitor and verify malicious access, certificates and code from third parties.

  • Implement end-to-end encryption, which would make an image or video un-viewable by anyone—including Snapchat—other than its designated audience.

  • Make safety and support services accessible to users—including providing easy to find and easy to read information on local support services. Snapchat definitely needs more resources for people surviving online gender based violence and cyberviolence. 

  • Build long-term partnerships with anti-violence experts and frontline workers.

  • Work with organizations to create dynamic anti-violence campaigns to be shared through Snapchat’s new advertising features. 


Read our general recommendations for social media platforms.

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