Over the past few months I have reexamined my view of why I am not on SnapChat. Our team had a conversation a few years ago about the pros and cons of joining the Snapchat movement. We knew then that Snapchat would be a massive hit. We made the decision then to not join the Snapchat movement. But where do I stand today? Is it time to reconsider my stance and use the widely popular app to engage the next generation?
Let me say upfront, that I want to be known for what I believe rather than what I am against. When we allow the things we are against to define us, we risk losing the foundation of who we are. I want the overall message of my life to be about hope, redemption and one that points to Jesus not my personal preferences.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Snapchat here is a brief rundown. Snapchat is simply a photo and video sharing platform. It was created by a group of Stanford University students in 2011. The initial appeal is that the user has the ability to determine how long the recipient is able to see the photo/video before it “disappears”. Snapchat was launched in 2011 and in June 2015, users sent an average of 700 million photos and videos per day. Snapchat is so big right now that Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg offered Evan Spiegel, 3 Billion for his “little” company. He respectfully declined.
It is no surprise why the next generation is infatuated with snapping and telling their story on Snapchat. Snapchat is all about the moment, the now, the imperfect and the real. There are no sexy filters or perfectly edited videos to make the moment seem more appealing than it actually is. They are stories from their life, right now.
#1 – THE INTENT OF THE CREATOR DEFINES THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCT. It’s no secret that Snapchat was created to be a fun, sexing platform. lWhere individuals can send pics of themselves or others to another party with the mindset that the photos will be deleted at a predetermined time (1-10sec). We can all agree that their intent was less than desirable. Due to their unwholesome intent, I believe it devalues the product to the result of abstention. Let me explain…THE INTENT OF THE CREATOR DEFINES THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCT Click To Tweet
Although SnapChat is a free app, the developers still gain a profit (estimated value, 19 billion from downloads and active users. In short, if I download and use the app, then I am financially supporting an organization that is trying to destroy the work of the Gospel in the next generation. Overstatement, I don’t think so. By downloading and using the app, I am supporting their intent (even if I do not use it in the created manner.
#2 – THERE IS NO REAL ANONYMITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Pictures are not magically deleted from the world wide inter web. SnapChat holds the right to store and use the images at their discretion. This is how the internet works. Although there are new rules and regulations set by the FTC, images and video’s are still stored and potentially sold.
As Adam Mmclane says so well in his blog, “SnapChat is built on a lie”. SnapChat promises its users that their pictures will be deleted, gone, your safe. It’s a lie. Everything that you post in social media has the ability to go public”. In fact, because they are transferred between users of the app, that image actually touches several servers between your phone and your friends phone. The image goes from your device, to your phone carriers servers, to SnapChats servers, to your friends phone carriers servers, to their phone. That message is logged in all of those places, that image is stored on SnapChats servers, that image is stored on your phone, and that image is stored on your friends phone. (Not to mention a ton of servers and switches who pass that data across the web.)” Back in 2014, nearly 200,000 Snapchat accounts were hacked where close to 13GB of photos and video were stolen.
#3 – SNAPCHAT IS QUICKLY EVOLVING: It seems like every month Snapchat makes a massive leap forward in innovation. They continue to find new ways to make the app more engaging and safer. Recently they have an avenue for law enforcement to contact them if a crime has occurred from within the app. They are cleaning up what kind of date they are storing for short-term and long-term. As a result they admitted the images and videos were not being deleted as they originally claimed. As Adam McClane states, it’s important to remember that, “none of these changes came from within. Evan and his team didn’t implement any of this for altruistic reasons to protect their users.” These changes were forced on them by the Federal Trade Commission.
POPULAR RESPONSE: “But we do not use it that way”: This may be true for you. I have many friends that use snapchat to market their business, their brand or even their ministry. Let me be clear, not everyone who uses snapchat is using it for sexting. Sure, there are many that leverage the Snapchat platform for sexting and bullying although I do not believe this is the main drawl for the next generation. Snapchat gives them a chance to share raw and unfiltered angles of their lives with their friends. Gives them a chance to share funny pics or short videos clips from their real life with no filter. Cofounder, Evan Siegel said, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection,” he blogged, “but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever else you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.” I do believe that it can be used in a responsible manner although I am not sure if the reward outweighs the risk.
In the end, I am not sure that I am comfortable leading students to a communication platform that could hinder their walk with God. I know this is a slippery slope. The same argument can be made about any social media platform. The main difference for me is that the risk is much greater with Snapchat. Is the reward worth the risk, I don’t think so. Why not delete Snapchat and share pics over messaging where there is accountability?
MY DECISION – YOU DECIDE: After a lot of consideration and prayer I have made the decision to not jump on the Snapchat movement at this time. I do not think that it’s the devil – I just don’t believe that it is right for me or my family. This was my decision. I encourage you to do your research and pray about how God is leading you. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Yes Snapchat is a powerful tool to engage the next generation. Just because something is a great tool does not mean that it is right for me.