Snapchat is near universally known as the sexting app. With the use of “disappearing” messages and pictures, it should come as no surprise as to how the app would be used. Snapchat has tried to shed this image and become a legitimate messaging platform, however it seems some habits die hard.
Earlier today a lawsuit was filed by “celebrity lawyer” Mark Geragos in US District Court for Central California. The complaint which is seeking class action status claims that Snapchat is violating the Communications Decency Act which regulates pornography on the internet. Filed on behalf of an unnamed minor, the lawsuit states that this child was exposed to multiple sexually explicit articles published via Snapchat’s original content partners. BuzzFeed, Fusion, MTV and Cosmopolitan are all named in this complaint. The complaint goes on to state that “”Millions of parents in the United States today are unaware that Snapchat is curating and publishing this profoundly sexual and offensive content to their children,” with no warning.
This content is being shared through Snapchat’s Discover service which doesn’t appear to have any age limitations pertaining to what users this content is being shared with. Snapchat’s own terms of service specify users should be at least 13 years of age. The Google Play Store rates Snapchat for a Teen Audience with stated ages of 13 and up. It’s rating states Teen rated apps “may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language”. Strangely enough, The Apple App Store lists Snapchat for ages 12 and up. This rating states that apps may contain, “Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes”.
In response, a Snapchat spokesperson offered the following, “”We haven’t been served with a complaint in this lawsuit, but we are sorry if people were offended. Our Discover partners have editorial independence, which is something that we support.”
So… I guess there’s that.
For those parents that do not wish to have their children exposed to such content, this would be a good time to suggest BBM. It’s a superior communication program. While it may not be able to add a dog nose and ears to your photo, you can count on BlackBerry not showing pornographic material to your children for profit.
And for those that prefer to use Snapchat for more *ahem* adult activities, I’d like to point out that BBM offers timed messages that truly disappear and will warn you if the other person has taken a screenshot. There is also a private messaging feature in which the entire chat is removed from both phones after a few minutes of inactivity.
For those that would like to read the full lawsuit, and see the examples of that content being shared with users regardless of their age, see below.