Snapchat’s New Terms of Service – Not Much Has Changed

Snapchat updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy last week and we wrote about it from a parenting perspective. You can see that post here. In that post, we focused more on the Privacy Policy than the Terms of Service, but were surprised to see headlines since calling out Snapchat for changing the deal for users – making it more likely that their photos could be used commercially.

Snapchat-logoFrom Marketwatch: Snapchat’s new ‘scary’ privacy policy has left users outraged

From The Independent: Snapchat privacy concerns prompted by terms that allow company to ‘publicly display’ any content made on disappearing message app

In general, Snapchat users take a picture and send it to a friend or group, confident in knowing that the picture, once viewed, would be deleted except subject to a various conditions. Those conditions were laid out in yesterday’s update and post. The fact that pictures may be copied by recipients, or stored for a time by Snapchat, didn’t really impact how Snapchat users went about their business.

The claim being made in the Marketwatch and The Independent articles is that it is a new risk that Snapchat may use pictures commercially. While there is no indication that they have done so to date, we don’t think anything has changed.

From the old Snapchat Terms of Service (November 2014):

“You retain all ownership rights in your User Content. However, by submitting User Content to Snapchat, you hereby grant us an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, promote, exhibit, and display such User Content in any and all media or distribution methods, now known or later developed (the “User Content License”), subject to any privacy settings you have set to control who can see your User Content. Without limiting the foregoing, when you submit User Content to Snapchat in connection with Our Stories and other crowd-sourced Stories, you agree that the User Content License accords Snapchat the right to sublicense such User Content to other companies, organizations, or individuals in connection with the syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion, or publication of Our Stories and other crowd-sourced Stories in any and all media or distribution methods, now known or later developed.”

From the new Terms of Service (10/28/2015):

“But you grant Snapchat a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). We will use this license for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services; researching and developing new ones; and making content submitted through the Services available to our business partners for syndication, broadcast, distribution, or publication outside the Services.”

Snapchat today took to its blog to clear things up. Specifically:

“First off, we want to be crystal clear: The Snaps and Chats you send your friends remain as private today as they were before the update. Our Privacy Policy continues to say—as it did before—that those messages “are automatically deleted from our servers once we detect that they have been viewed or have expired…It’s true that our Terms of Service grant us a broad license to use the content you create—a license that’s common to services like ours. 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 (something we’ve said we could do in previous versions of our Terms and Privacy Policy). But we tried to be clear that the Privacy Policy and your own privacy settings within the app could restrict the scope of that license so that your personal communications continue to remain truly personal.”

If you’re a Snapchat user, you should probably know that they might use your pictures somehow, if it suits them. When it comes to posting to Live Stories, you should expect them to be used – you are sharing them publicly. Personal snaps and messages, to our knowledge, haven’t been shared yet. If Snapchat decides to go down this road, they risk alienating a lot of users.



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