Snapchat Responds To Chatter About Privacy Policy Change

Social media rumors were taken far too seriously this weekend, as word spread around the globe that Snapchat’s recent privacy policy update gave the company ownership over user content, which includes photos, videos, and text messages. The rumors were picked up by publications that included The Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald. Snapchat addressed the rumors in fairly plain language this morning with a statement assuring that its users retained control over their content.

In the statement, Snapchat assured users that they were not storing user content indefinitely.

“The Snaps and Chats you send your friends remain as private today as they were before the update,” the statement read. The company further elaborated that while messages were deleted from Snapchat’s servers after viewing, the company had no control over screenshots or pictures taken by their recipients.

It’s worth noting that the updated terms of service were far from ambiguous when it came to content rights, which just shows you the power of unsubstantiated internet rumors.

“When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with,” read Snapchat’s Terms of Service, in reference to content that is uploaded onto the company’s servers.

Public outcry after changes in Terms of Service is hardly new. Instagram rolled back changes to their Ad terms after angering users late in 2012. In similar circumstances, the outcry over Instagram’s new policies was related to user worries about content ownership.

While Snapchat continues to maintain a policy of not sharing message contents with advertisers or other business partners, its Terms of Service does give it significant usage rights over content sent over the app.

“We need that license when it comes to, for example, Snaps submitted to Live Stories, where we have to be able to show those Stories around the world—and even replay them or syndicate them,” the company added in the statement. Snapchat’s right to use content in this manner has been a part of their Terms of Service since the company’s inception.

Snapchat’s statement also clarified some reasons for the updated Terms of Service. Other than linguistic simplification, the new terms enable Snapchat to sell replays on messages. This language on in-app purchases paves the way for new paid and promoted content, something that Snapchat will need for their long drive towards profitability.