Snapchat definition

Contributor(s): Emily McLaughlin

Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send and receive "self-destructing" photos and videos. Photos and videos taken with the app are called Snaps.   

Snapchat uses the device's camera to capture Snaps and Wi-fi technology to send them. The app allows the sender to draw or insert text on the Snap and determine how many seconds (1-10) the recipient can view it before the file disappears from the recipient's device.  Messages can only be viewed once -- and during the viewing period, the recipient must maintain contact with the device's touchscreen or the Snap disappears. 

The Snapchat application, which was developed by a small team of Stanford University students, launched in September 2011 and is available for both iOS and Android devices. In May 2013, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint against Snapchat Inc. with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), alleging that the company is misleading users by encouraging them to believe that pictures are permanently removed from Snapchat servers within seconds of viewing.

This video shows how a Snapchat user might use the app. 

See also: Multimedia Messaging Service


This was first published in June 2013

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