Will Snapchat Payments Lead To More Bad Behavior?

Snapchat’s rise to its current spot as one of the most popular social media apps among teens has been quite a thing to watch. This has happened despite a plethora of bad press over obvious (to us at least) shortcomings.

snapchatIf you haven’t tried Snapchat you might not know exactly how it works, but its premise is simple. A user takes a picture and sends it to a friend or group of friends using the app. The picture self-destructs within ten seconds of the recipient viewing it. If the recipient attempts to save the picture, the sender is notified. Brilliant, right? Well, the shortcomings:

  • Pictures don’t actually disappear
  • It can be gamed using third party apps
  • It has been hacked on a very large scale, leaking thousands of user photos and videos

Yesterday, Snapchat announced Snapcash, a not-exactly-expected initiative that will allow users to send each other cash using the app. In-app payments aren’t new, but owing at least in part to novelty of Snapchat, it didn’t take long for headlines like the one below to hit the web, this one from Motherboard:

Did Snapchat Just Accidentally Monetize Nudes?

“Accidentally” can’t be the correct word here. We hardly think that one very popular use case for the app, sending nude photos, is unknown to the execs at Snapchat. Nor are they likely unaware that there is a very vibrant market online in which eager men (and women? Perhaps in a small way.) purchase nude photos, fetish items or whatever tickles their fancy.

r-kiksnapsJust one example is the subreddit r/KIKSnaps, where posters, predominantly female, charge money to add users to a subscriber list for nude pictures, sell fetish items or “rent” 1 on 1 digital online sessions for, well, you can guess what. Many of the posters claim to be teens, but who knows.

If your teen is a Snapchat user, does the existence of payment functionality within the app make it more likely that she will engage in nefarious activities? Probably not. The market for such has been out there, and not at all difficult to find. Will it change anything for teen Snapchat users? Who knows.


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