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Why We Should Celebrate Snapchat and Encourage Ephemeral Communication 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Within a few months of launching, Snapchat has made an enormous and lasting impact on the culture of communication on the Internet – and we should all be grateful. They have simplified a security process enough to the point that anybody can use it, while validating the market of the next generation of privacy-preserving ephemeral communication. Most importantly, we may finally get a break from the forced permanence of the Facebook and Google world, where everything you do and share is a data point to be monetized and re-sold to the highest bidder."
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Why We Should Celebrate Snapchat and Encourage Ephemeral Communication

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  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:12AM (#43801105) Homepage

    The link is broken. I see naked HTML. Forbes won't let me in. Oh wait, What?

  • What and what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    > privacy-preserving ephemeral communication. Most importantly, we may finally get a break from the forced permanence

    If it's transmitted in the clear and displayed on a screen, it is neither privacy-preserving nor ephemeral.

    • Re:What and what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by homb (82455) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:20AM (#43801137)

      Just like you can't stop someone from secretly recording a face-to-face conversation, Snapchat tries to enforce as much as possible the demands for privacy: if the recipient stores the message (through a camera screen capture for example), then it is clear s/he is going against the wishes of the sender, and that ultimately could have legal ramifications.
      Technically the data isn't transmitted in the clear. You have to do some work to crack its encryption.

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        if the recipient stores the message (through a camera screen capture for example), then it is clear s/he is going against the wishes of the sender, and that ultimately could have legal ramifications.

        If that's acceptable, then just send your naked pictures with a little note saying, "Hey, please delete this instead of sharing it with your frat and checkoutmynakedgirlfried.com, mmmkay?" Either the technology as-is is adequate (in which case you don't need it), or its not (in which case you shouldn't use it).

        Their marketing, however, appears to be fantastic, since the previous logic isn't being used.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "...as much as possible..."
        You wish. A student of mine has been working on implementing the same concept as Snapchat, but this time from a security point of view.
        The project is *far* from finished, yet it offers two security features that snapchat doesn't:
        - Pictures are encrypted
        - Pictures are genuinely deleted after watching.

        The idea of Snapchat is pretty cool. But being able to plug in a phone and easily recover "deleted" photos goes against the core of what the app promises...

      • by dwye (1127395)

        Technically the data isn't transmitted in the clear. You have to do some work to crack its encryption.

        Some work in the NSA's sense, or just XOR the data against "flamingo" as in Kerberos v0.1?

        This also assumes that Snapchat Central doesn't have the plaintext somewhere, to follow wiretapping requirements.

  • Slashdot's lowest point?
  • Snap What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:22AM (#43801141)

    "Snapchat has made an enormous and lasting impact..."

    And this is the first I've heard of it.

    • Re: Snap What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MachineShedFred (621896) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:23AM (#43801147) Journal

      Me too. And I still don't know wtf it is, or why I should care.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I heard it's like video chat, but just with still images instead of video. And lots of wangs.

      • Re: Snap What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @07:53AM (#43801611)
        Snapchat is a picture messaging service which displays the image, once opened, for only 10 seconds, then deletes it. You can't screenshot the image because you need to hold your touchscreen for the image to display for those 10 seconds.

        There are hacks to bypass this security feature, but they require a rooted phone.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          There are hacks to bypass this security feature, but they require a rooted phone.

          Or, on an iPhone, you hit the power and home buttons simultaneously, because iOS doesn't give a shit if you're using the touchscreen or not when you do that.

        • Or just take a picture of the phone's screen and crop the phone/finger from the image. Snapchat offers zero security.

          • Snapchat makes it slightly more cumbersome to keep a permanent record of the message contents. You have physical access to the device, so obviously you will be able to copy the message somehow. All I meant is that there are methods to circumvent the protections offered by the software using software only, but that they require a rooted Android phone to work.
          • by dwye (1127395)

            Snapchat offers zero security.

            Actually, negative security, because its security claims encourage moral hazard. This is like calling a bank "To Big To Fail" and not being able to back it up when its loan officers make ridiculous loans because Uncle will always make them good.

        • Not entirely true: When someone makes a screenshot within the alotted time the picture is visible (the sender can set the amount of time it's visible), you can still make a normal screengrab (only have experience with an iPhone here), but it will notify the sender that a screenshot has been taken. The iPhone does not need to be unlocked for it.
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Not entirely true: When someone makes a screenshot within the alotted time the picture is visible (the sender can set the amount of time it's visible), you can still make a normal screengrab (only have experience with an iPhone here), but it will notify the sender that a screenshot has been taken. The iPhone does not need to be unlocked for it.

            Or given how iOS is sandboxed, the photos will be nearby the app in its documents folder. You need something that can browse the iPhone filesystem over its protocol -

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          It is baffling what this feature is intended for.

      • If you still don't know "wtf it is", whose fault is it? Go RTFA! Though I agree it should have been in TFS.
        • I couldn't read TFS because TFL was broken and behind a paywall anyway, and the summary was nothing but nebulous buzzwords that I couldn't bring myself to care about.

    • Re:Snap What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dyfet (154716) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:26AM (#43801153) Homepage

      Indeed. At least cryptocat I had heard about...never heard of this ever before. Sounds like self-promotion by a private commercial entity...and then there is this about it (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapchat [wikipedia.org])

      "...In May 2013, Forbes reported that the photos do not actually disappear, and that they can still be retrieved even after their time limit had expired.[6]..."

      Oops...maybe your snapchat really is only shared with your friends and every three letter agency in the book?! :)

    • by Exitar (809068)

      It's the second time for me.
      The first time was an article describing how the photos that should have been deleted from the phone by snapchat actually weren't.

    • by Njovich (553857)

      I take it nobody has sent you any naughty pictures recently? You may not be the target group for it.

      And I don't mean this insultingly or so, I'm neither. But make no mistake, 90% of people under 20 know about it, and it did have its impact.

      • by Cenan (1892902)

        I take it nobody has sent you any naughty pictures recently? You may not be the target group for it.

        Technically the target audience would be the people sending the pictures, the ones receiving would be a secondary audience - and only use the program because the primary audience is sending naked tits to them via it. Akin to why many people around here, allegedly, use Facebook, because other people use it and they wish to participate. /nitpick_off

        But this is by far not the first time I've heard of it, although I wouldn't have been able to name it by name, I knew of chat apps for phones that tried to impleme

      • If you send naughty pictures to a recipient you don't trust, you deserve the fallout. Learning who is trustworthy is a valuable life skill; It shouldn't be hacked around by technology.
    • by Arduenn (2908841)

      FTFA

      The makers of Snapchat are right to reject the “sexting app” label – it’s not clear that this is what it is even being used for, and everyone deserves the option to communicate privately when they want, without automatically being branded as a pervert.

      Just as I thought. It's just another sexting app.

      • I would have loved to read the article, but there weren't any links in the summary. Well, there was one, but both the submitter and the editor are incompetent at submitting and editing.

    • "Snapchat has made an enormous and lasting impact..."

      And this is the first I've heard of it.

      I believe the author like every teenager thinks he invented masturbation

      Which of course is impossible because I invented it!

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      Ditto, never even heard of it. Considering how many other people have never heard of it, I question if it has had much of any impact, let alone an "enormous and lasting impact".

    • (Disclosure: I'm am old bastard myself but I work in the mobile dev world so it's my job to know when things are making waves in the industry.)

      The demographic that they appeal to is very, very young. As in teens and college-aged adults. The app itself is extremely popular in the iTunes store and on Android. So much so, in fact, that Facebook, after not being able to buy it quickly (after explosive... truly explosive growth) decided to rip it off and build a clone called, wait for it, Poke.

      People dec
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Actually, this is the second time I've heard of it. However I have no doubt that there is some social media enamored teen out there who honestly believes snapchat has an enormous and lasting impact. And by enormous and lasting impact they mean they've paid attention to it for at least one week.

  • by dyfet (154716) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:30AM (#43801169) Homepage

    How do they reconcile their claims with "Snapchats Don't Disappear: Forensics Firm Has Pulled Dozens of Supposedly-Deleted Photos From Android Phones" - http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/05/09/snapchats-dont-disappear/?utm_campaign=forbestwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social [forbes.com]

    "A 24-year-old forensics examiner from Utah has made a discovery that may make some Snapchat users think twice before sending a photo that they think is going to quickly disappear. Richard Hickman of Decipher Forensics found that it’s possible to pull Snapchat photos from Android phones simply by downloading data from the phone using forensics software and removing a “.NoMedia” file extension that was keeping the photos from being viewed on the device. He published his findings online and local TV station KSL has a video showing how it’s done ..."

    Opps...sounds closer to fraudsters

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      if someone can see the message they can record it.
      if not with anything else then with another smartphone, duh.

      this is just a snapchat advertisement.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by HJED (1304957)
      Nope, they used data forensics to recovery files, the same techniques used to recover deleted files from desktop computers by criminal investigators, it is not something most developers would consider likely and (until very recently thanks to snapchat and the media attention) something that most users would not have the technical ability to do, especially on a phone.
      That being said snapchat developers probably should have fixed it by now (by overriding it before deletion like secure deletion tools do)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ooooohhhhh, data forensics? That sound compli-muh-cated. Not like anyone could do it I'm sure.

        • Psh. They do that shit on every other episode of CSI. And clearly if the under-funded police can do that, then anyone can do that.

          Wake up and smell the erosion of rights!

        • by HJED (1304957)
          No, but most developers just assume that the OS's delete function works, and both accessing the deleted files and deleting them properly requires root access.
          Until people started publishing step by step guides for the purpose of retriveing these files, the tools available where quite difficult to use and required a reasonably high level of technical knowledge.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It doesn't require data forensics. It just requires a basic understanding of storing files. If I have a file that is 2 GB large, the best way to store it is in contiguous space. There are also methods of using non-contiguous space that are just as simple - the first piece of information points to the next piece and so on, until you reach the end. Most operating systems will do that for you.

        When you 'delete' a file, all the operating system does is go to the beginning of that file and sets a flag that s

        • by HJED (1304957)
          Um, that is what I said only in more detail? However, recovering files that have been 'deleted' in that the OS sets the space available flag you where describing is called data forensics, Foremost [wikipedia.org] a tools thats main function is to recover such files is widely described as a "forensic" tool.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The snapchat blog and FAQ detail how they store data and when and how that data is deleted. They are completely upfront about this,

      I'd never heard of snapchat until today, but I found this information with about 2 minutes worth of effort.
      Why are you people making a big deal about something they are completely open about?

  • considering the permissions the android apps is asking for, i rather stay with google hangouts.
  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:40AM (#43801185) Homepage

    "We should be grateful" the summary says.

    Well I for one am grateful that we seem to have hit the Slashdot trifecta: (1) Obvious, blatant slashvertisement intended to showcase some product noone's ever heard of, (2) link to a site behind a paywall, and (3) Web 2.0 product that somehow involves social and tracking and profile building, something I would want no part of.

    Do I win? And if so, do I get my money back?

  • Is English your mother tongue, samzenpuss?

    • Don't blame the editors. It's not their job to read submissions, correct any errors like broken HTML tags, fix grammatical errors and otherwise tidy up so that we are presented with a clear, concise summary of the subject to be discussed.

      Or at least I assume it isn't, because they never seem to do so.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for this slashvertisement. Not let me deconstruct it:

    It's a commercial entity behind this, which means the government has easy leverage to make them snoop on all their millions of users. All the government has to do is to set them up for "inquiry into inappropriate accounting and tax evasion". See what they did to Bernie Ebbers of MCI and the boss of Qwest.

    Bernie Ebbers did not comply with their demands for illegal eavesdropping, he did not take their bribe in the form of "NSA telecommunications cont

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not necessarily disagreeing with anything you've posted, but I'm really not sure how you got from a "deconstruction" of a blatant slashvertisment for some kind of photo-sharing service, to middle-eastern politics. Let me try.

      As a photo-sharing service, it is not at all out of the question that bigger "social media" operators like facebook, google or even Microsoft might buy them out to either extinguish or intgrate the chatsnap service into their own. This means that any pictures you put into this service c

    • by westlake (615356)

      It's a commercial entity behind this, which means the government has easy leverage to make them snoop on all their millions of users.

      The commercial product has at least the virtue of being usable by ordinary mortals and the placement and promotion needed to build a significant base of users.

  • Wait, what (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    in the actual fuck is ..
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @06:26AM (#43801311) Homepage

    They have simplified a security process enough to the point that anybody can use it

    Yeah, and look what's happened to Slashdot now it's so simple that anyone can use it:

    the market of the next generation of a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarunwadhwa/2013/05/22/why-we-should-

    Please, submitters, check your summaries (I say "your", though this is just another copy-and-paste job) for things like borked HTML, because the editors clearly aren't interested in editing anything.

  • Keeping chat history in the cloud with Google Talk / Hangouts is one of the features I love about the service the most. I can not even count the number of times that the ability to look at old chat logs has saved my butt.

    The very "feature" SnapChat is promoting is also the reason I would never use their service... I want and need a cloud-based shared history for my chat logs, thanks. To me, they are just as important and ephemeral as emails.

    • This is a serious "Whoosh", not one of those comedic ones. You have totally missed the point of this service.

      Imagine a situation where you wouldn't want the recipient to have a permanent record of your message. If you can't then this app isn't for you. Please keep on using one of the many services offering a logged history.
      • by brunes69 (86786)

        I think you need to re-read the summary of this post and the linked article where it is suggested that these apps should be used for more day-to-day conversations.

        I am not arguing that this app does not have a place. I am saying its place is not to supplant existing messaging services. It serves a niche, that is all.

         

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Join the real world and realize that if your eyes can see it ... it can be recorded. The whoosh is on you.

        • People who post here know that you can circumvent these protections trivially; It doesn't need to be explicitly stated. I was talking about a way of retrieving the data from the phone through software only, something which Snapchat explicitly tries to protect against. Saying that, it only needs to inconvenience the majority of the population to be successful in that purpose; The rest will get access whatever they do. Some because they can, some for nefarious purposes, but ultimately they are the minority. A
  • This "stories" has all the hallmarks of some marketing dribble written by Snapchat. It has the right buzzwords, is full of itself, and touts some silly app as the future of the Internet.

    When did Slashdot sell its soul and start accepting stories from companies?

  • ... But I like Wickr. Self destructing messages and pictures, strong end-to-end encryption, Wickr has no idea what traverses the system, etc. https://www.mywickr.com/ [mywickr.com]
  • Snapchat is a joke. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23, 2013 @07:20AM (#43801479)

    As soon as I saw this I laughed my ass off. The reality is that if you send something to someone, they can have it forever. A friend of mine has written apps for both iOS and Android using Cydia Substrate to hook the API calls used to display images and video in snapchat and automatically save them out to your SD card.

    It's not possible by definition of how computers work to do something like this securely.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, we should encourage encrypted communication and use of things such as OTR and Truecrypt, but it's impossible to prevent someone your message is sent to from storing your message.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Your lie is REALLY easy to spot when you talk about saving files to hardware that doesn't actually exist on an iOS device.

      Your friend used Cydia to add an SD Card slot too did he?

      Try again, liar.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think website like 4chan are a better example of ephemeral communication, since unlike this they've already stood the test of time

  • Most importantly, we may finally get a break from the forced permanence of the Facebook and Google world, where everything you do and share is a data point to be monetized and re-sold to the highest bidder.

    I would be much more willing to trust Google with my data than any new company showing up. Regardless of what the Internets are claiming, Google does not sell users' data.

    Google earned my trust through their actual actions. If a new company want to earn my trust, they have to do the same. It is not har

  • It is not available for my nexus 7 tablet.
  • by anthony_greer (2623521) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @08:13AM (#43801673)

    Do the editors read the news? I first saw this yesterday morning:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-privacy-watchdog-epic-files-complaint-against-snapchat-with-ftc-20130517,0,3618395.story [latimes.com]

    and if they weren't monitoring/storing snap chat, I would think the FBI would be bitching like they do about Skype...

  • by 2phar (137027) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @08:31AM (#43801745)
    The 'disable advertising' option appears to no longer be working.
  • You have a lot to learn. There's no reason to sell data to only one paying customer, is there?

  • Ephemeral communications would be nice. Snapchat, however, seems broken and doesn't serve this purpose.

    • Forced 300 baud Internet connections to take a break of silly graphics
    • E-mail that has to be printed out to be read, to revive good old paper letter feeling
    • GPS-free cars to get people to know their neighborhoods and make accidental discoveries of new eateries and stuff

    Or not. Snapchat artificially restricts capabilities of my own smartphone. Perhaps the problem with fac ebook is not permanence per se, but the fact that its a free service and makes money by selling your data. If people were wise enough

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      I agree with you ... except ...

      What actually happens is you pay a couple bucks ... the company sells out to some other company like say ... Dice ... then they sell all your info to someone else anyway.

  • 4chan threads self-destruct after a (short) period of inactivity, and has done so for a long time - I don't see how this ephemeral communication thing is either new or newsworthy.

    I'm pretty sure we shouln't go and celebrate the existance of 4chan, either.

  • "Why We Should Celebrate Snapchat and Encourage Ephemeral Communication"

    Reminds me of The Simpsons [simpsoncrazy.com] (of course) -- "Mr. Burns: your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?"

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