Snapchat, one of the many social media apps popular among teenagers with over 100 million users, allows one to send a picture that will “self-destruct” in a matter of seconds after being opened. However, reports have been pointing out that Snapchat doesn’t actually delete the photos, and that the pictures are instead being buried deep inside the user’s device. Despite knowing this, many still continue to use Snapchat.
According to an article by Business Insider, Richard Hickman, a digital forensics examiner, made the discovery that photos taken on Snapchat are hidden far into the device in a folder called “RECEIVED_IMAGES_SNAPS”. In addition, “.NOMEDIA”, is tacked onto each photo file. Once the file is found and the “.NOMEDIA” extension is taken off, the photos can be viewed again.
Hickman explained that instead of being deleted, the photo is simply no longer mapped. This means that the place where the photo was originally stored can now be overwritten, like on a regular camera.
If a device were to be hacked, the pictures taken on Snapchat can be resurfaced on various social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Besides the pictures being embarrassing, it can be awkward and bring up unwanted emotions for the victim.
Justin Zhao, a senior at MVHS, did not know that the pictures he took on Snapchat could be resurfaced from his phone’s server, but wasn’t concerned when he found out about it.
“I don’t really care if it’s saved or not,” Zhao said. “I don’t really care if people see it because most of the things I send are kind of funny, it’s not anything personal or embarrassing.”
Sarah Haslem, a freshman, did know about this folder but felt similarly to Zhao because she’s “not sending stupid things.”
Snapchat has not commented on this issue and has only said the pictures being taken on the app “are deleted from our servers after they have been viewed by the recipient.”
*If you would like to find out more about Richard Hickman’s findings regarding this issue, visit http://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-doesnt-delete-your-private-pictures-2013-5.