this article bothers me, and i was going to let it go past without comment because “who cares,” but it’s apparently getting a ton of attention (10k+ notes at time of writing) and i know i’m going to be seeing it on my dashboard for-fucking-ever regardless of whether or not i say anything about it
a lot of this article, maybe even most of it, is either straight-up wrong or being vastly overblown for the purposes of scaring luddite parents into buying the author’s conveniently linked-to book on “social media”. no really, dude flogs his crappy book at least a couple times in there. the entire article is one big sign saying “your teens are using the internet in ways you don’t understand, and that should scare you”
the dude’s entire thesis in this article seems to be that it is literally impossible to be anonymous on the internet no matter what you do. which is silly, of course. his first point, that “everything you do on your computer may one day become public” seems like a point better made for the purposes of staying off of computers entirely rather than some cogent indictment against snapchat specifically.
he claims that your snapchat images “may one day show up on a google image search for your name” but offers no theoretical avenues for this to take place. it’s just a nice scary turd in your breakfast cereal, a deus ex machina with no proposed connection to “real things that actually happen or have happened”.
his point about snapchat messages being stored on the phone before you access them is true (where else should they go before you look at them?) but his claim that they can be recovered by a third party is specious. yes, you can steal someone’s unaccessed snapchats— if you’ve got physical access to their (jailbroken, unlocked, unencrypted) phone and some forensic software. guess what else someone can get off your phone with those same things? a lot more than your fucking selfies. unless this dude’s point is “a skilled hacker with tons of resources can fuck with you bigtime, in theory” he’s just trying to scare you.
his second point continues in the same vein, apparently trying to claim that because MAC addresses are a thing that exist anonymity is a fake idea. the NSA’s over there hacking internet backbone to archive your communications en masse, and this dude’s freaking out about some theoretical superhacker tracing your selfies via MAC address (and access to your ISP records, I guess?)
i don’t know what to say about the claim that “a ton of servers and switches who pass that data across the web” are archiving all of your stuff as it passes through, other than that the statement is at best “ignorant” and at worst “a direct and purposeful lie”. think about how much storage capacity would be required if backbone switches were actually storing user data.
TL;DR: almost all of the dude’s technical points are just taking things that can be applied to “everything you do on the internet, ever” and then making them sound as scary as possible so that he can sell his book. these are infrastructure vulnerabilities that get theorized about over bonghits at hacker-cons, not stuff there’s actually a meaningful risk for.
his second big point is that “snapchat gets used for sexting” which, well, i don’t care. use it how you like, i guess? fuck you internet dad, you’re not my real dad. the creators of snapchat sound like scumbags, but welcome to the tech industry. i guarantee you almost every company is terrible in ways you will never know about.
he wraps up by getting mad that snapchat was funded by venture capitalist money and therefore you cannot possibly trust them. which, fine, but a couple paragraphs later he recommends you trust facebook with your private communications instead. facebook, of all fucking companies, which is basically designed to violate user privacy. (incidentally, one of facebook’s boardmembers is real good friends and former colleagues with the CEO of in-q-tel, the venture capital wing of the CIA.) good suggestion internet dad thanks for looking out for our privacy
delete snapchat if you want, they’re assholes and their real-life security practices are bad and they should feel bad. they just got hacked and leaked 4.6 million phone numbers using a publicly-documented technique that they were first warned about (and blew off) back in like fucking august or something. so fuck them, delete your account. just don’t do it because this internet dad yelled some bullshit at you while trying to sell his book.