Snapchat is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as “snaps”; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions, and drawings.
A feature known as “Geofilters” was added in July 2014, which allows special graphical overlays to be available if the user is within a certain geographical location, such as a city, event, or destination.
The “Lens” feature, introduced in September 2015, allows users to add real-time effects into their snaps by using face detection technology which is activated by long-pressing on a face within the viewfinder.
Snapchat also benefits from being “falsely classified as a social network,” according to Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner. “Snapchat is not really a social media tool so much as what we call a consumer messaging app,” she says. “There are certainly broadcast capabilities of Snapchat but there isn’t an ability for group-wide commentary like you see with traditional social networks. Messaging apps are a response to consumer, particularly younger consumers’, desire for privacy.”
Snapchat is now the third most popular social app among millennials, according to a recent report by comScore, which finds that Snapchat has 32.9% penetration on these young users’ mobile phones, trailing only Instagram (43.1%) and Facebook (75.6%).
Many new forms of communications technology seem seedy and absurd when mainstream audiences first find out about them and later prove to have much broader applications. “I’m not a guy who’s going to be doing any sexting,” Barss says. “But right now there are no pictures of my two young kids on the Internet, because I don’t want to lose control of the images. It’s a permanent record. If there were an app where I could share pictures of them with family members, and then the photos would disappear forever after a set period of time, I might be willing to adopt that technology. So you could see how this app might be able to springboard into a more mainstream usage.”
In September 2015, an 18-year-old was using a Snapchat feature called “Lens” to record the speed she was driving her Mercedes C230 when she crashed into a Mitsubishi Outlander in Hampton, Georgia. The 107 miles per hour (171 kilometers per hour) crash injured both drivers. The driver of the Outlander spent five weeks in intensive care while he was treated for severe traumatic brain injury. In April 2016, the Outlander driver sued both Snapchat and the user of Snapchat, alleging that Snapchat knew its application was being used in unlawful speed contests, yet did nothing to prevent such use so is negligent.
Under the Who Can… section, configure your privacy settings for who can send you snaps and who can view your story. As a business, you may want to start out by allowing everyone to send you snaps and allowing everyone to view your story.
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