Snapchat’s short-lived messages are the app’s claim to fame, but in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) today the company was forced to admit that your snaps won’t always “disappear forever” as promised. Under the new agreement, Snapchat will be forced beef up its privacy efforts in an initiative that will be monitored by independent experts for the next 20 years.
In its arguments, the FTC noted that Snapchat users could easily save shared photos and messages using third-party apps or other workarounds to grab a screenshot without alerting the sender. The complaint also notes that the company’s Android app secretly recorded and transmitted the user’s physical location, and that the app’s Find Friends service allowed hackers to steal 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers.
Today’s settlement is part of a larger push against mobile applications that may be misrepresenting their privacy policies. Other popular apps like Whisper and Secret also promise varying degrees of anonymity, though it’s possible we’ll see these companies admit they deceived their users as well.