Having already warned its users that connecting to a third-app gives “a developer, and possibly a criminal” access to their intimate selfies, Snapchat is taking new steps to safeguard their privacy in the wake of hundreds of thousands of ‘snaps’ leaking out last month.
The company says it will notify users that are still using third-party applications that they are doing so, prompt them to change their password (for additional security) and advise them to refrain from using “unauthorized” services going forward. Snapchat tells TechCrunch it will contact users both via email and inside its official apps.
From the company’s Tumblr blog:
We’ve enjoyed some of the ways that developers have tried to make Snapchat better. Unfortunately, some developers build services that trick Snapchatters and compromise their accounts.
We want to prevent that from happening in our community. Starting today, we will notify Snapchatters when we have detected that they may be using third-party apps and we’ll ask those Snapchatters to change their password and stop using unauthorized apps.
This is hugely significant for third-party app-makers. A Snapchat spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that this will affect every third-party app, which is likely to mean that the unofficial ecosystem that sprung up around the app’s popularity will wither. Most users will trust Snapchat’s judgement on the ‘risks’ of using unofficial apps, particularly given the media coverage that last month’s leaks generated.
Back in October, some 200,000 photos from Snapchat users were reportedly leaked online after two third-party applications that plug into the service were compromised. Snapchat denied claims that its servers had been accessed, and pledged to address the growing number of third-party apps in the market.
Snapsaved, one of the breached services, took full responsibility for the leaks, but arguably the lack of an official Snapchat API — which other services could plug into to work with the app more securely — is something that puts users’ privacy at risk. Snapchat has said that is working on an official API, as it is keen to become a ‘platform’, but for now the focus is on clamping down on the use of third-party apps rather than building out security.
Snapchat added that this update is not likely to affect most users. It also teased that there is “some incredible new stuff” coming soon.
Note: The original version of this article was updated after Snapchat confirmed that the notifications will impact those who use any third-party application.