Snapchat settles with FTC over disappearing messages, security breach

Snapchat has agreed to put together a comprehensive privacy program subject to independent monitoring for the next 20 years

The Federal Trade Commission has a tiny problem with the way Snapchat describes its core feature, disappearing messages. The thing is, the FTC says, Snapchat's messages don't actually disappear. They can be saved in a variety of ways, from simple screenshots to outside apps.

Worse, Snapchat was misrepresenting that fact in its privacy policy.

So the FTC gave Snapchat a good scolding, and the company agreed to put together a comprehensive privacy program that will be subject to independent privacy monitoring for the next 20 years. Snapchat will also be prohibited from misrepresenting future privacy measures over user information.

"While we were focused on building [Snapchat], some things didn't get the attention they could have," the company said in a statement on Thursday. "One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community."

To say the least.

Messages that failed to disappear weren't the FTC's only concern with Snapchat. The agency said the app did nothing to prevent security breaches like the Find Friends exploit earlier this year that allowed hackers to collect 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers.

"If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises," FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a Thursday statement.

But Snapchat said it has already fixed most of the issues the FTC had with the app, including changing the wording of its privacy policy and app description.

The app will have to tread carefully going forward to ensure that the FTC doesn't find fault with future features.

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