Police Warn Parents of 'Snapchat' App - WSET.com - ABC13

Police Warn Parents of 'Snapchat' App

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Lynchburg, VA - After hackers posted the phone numbers of millions of Snapchat users, the company announced it will launch a new version of its popular messaging app.

The new version will let users opt out of the find friends feature.

The option allows users to find friends by their phone number, but hackers used the feature to create a database of user names.

The company says no other information was compromised.

While hackers may have access to user information, police warn predators are using Snapchat to access your children.

Police say Snapchat might be the greatest invention for child pornographers yet, giving them a way to receive a dirty picture of a child and not get caught.

Snapchat works this way: your child snaps a picture through the app on his or her phone and sets a countdown clock before sending it to another Snapchat user.

The image can be viewed for no longer than 10 seconds after the recipient opens it, then it's supposed to self-delete.

But Snapchat admits in its privacy policy that it stores sent images on servers until they're viewed and cannot guarantee deletion will happen within a certain amount of time.

The person on the receiving end might take a screen shot.

Sgt. Steve Anders with the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force could easily take a phone into the forensic lab and find any photo you snapped.

"When you have young people under the age of 18 who are taking sexually explicit photos of themselves, and sending them to someone else thinking ‘Oh, it will be gone in just a couple seconds,' it's not. That person is still going to have that file on their phone or their tablet, whether they realize it or not and it could be recovered," Sgt. Anders said.

On the flip side, image storage can be helpful to law enforcement. Officers can get a subpoena to get the image.

Often, though, online crimes involving children aren't reported for weeks or months after they happen; once a parent finds out and notifies the authorities.

If an image has already been viewed, it should, in theory, not be on Snapchat's servers.

 

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