What Data Does Snapchat Collect From You?

What Data Does Snapchat Collect From You?

Snapchat

Today, Snapchat is one of the most widely used apps by the younger generations, and 82% of US teens use it. Although it doesn’t have the same gigantic global user base that YouTube or Facebook may have (Snapchat has around 294 million users, while Facebook has over 4 billion), the platform has steadily grown over the past decade.

One of the key areas where Snapchat has grown is in its advertising department. Now, large companies can pay to have their ads featured within users’ Snapchat ‘Stories’ feed. Snapchat uses data and user information they accumulate and collect to determine which users see what type of ads.

So, just what type of data does Snapchat collect from users? How much data do they collect? And most importantly, how safe is your data? Below, we’ll show you everything you need to know about what data Snapchat collects on you and how to limit the data being collected!

Background…

Created in mid-2011, Snapchat was one of the first instant messaging apps that allowed users to instantly send and receive auto-deleting images and messages to each other. In an age where online blackmail was starting to become a problem, this feature was very appealing.

With Snapchat, users wouldn’t have to worry about their pictures and videos getting reported or saved and shared online. Each image or video sent was instantly deleted, according to the senders’ time limit settings. Some content could be replayed once, others would last 5 seconds, and some would last 10 seconds. The same thing applied to text messages sent on the platform as well!

Although Snapchat doesn’t offer the same level of anonymity that a VPN like one of these does, it’s become just “anonymous” enough to encourage increased usage among today’s untrusting youth.

Plus, it’s hard to say no to the little yellow ghost that became the company’s trademark!

What Does Snapchat Know About Me?

Above, we mentioned that the majority of Snapchat’s revenue comes from offering paid advertising slots to major corporations. If you’re not aware of how advertising works on social media, then understand this: Advertisers need user data to run better campaigns. 

This means that Snapchat will work with advertisers to ensure that their ads are reaching their desired viewers, based on factors like age, geographic location, and usage habits. So, how do you tell what data Snapchat is collecting about you? Thankfully, they’re fairly transparent about their data collection policies. Here’s what Snapchat knows about its users.

  1. ID Information: Whenever you sign up for a Snapchat account, you’ll start by entering your phone number. Then, Snapchat will ask you for a name and email address, in addition to your desired username and password. Users can create multiple Snapchat accounts under the same phone number by using different email addresses, but all of their accounts will be linked to the same phone number.
  2. Your GPS Location (If You Allow It): By default, Snapchat uses your phone’s GPS to determine your location. They use this to add to their “Snap Map” that allows users to see where their friends are located. Your GPS location is also shared with advertisers for the purpose of sending geo-specific ads to your ‘Stories’ feed.
    Snapchat GPS Location
  3. Messages: Although Snapchat “deletes” your messages and prevents the recipient (or even you) from being able to see them after a certain amount of time, Snapchat holds onto them. They may not be reading through them, but they’re there.
  4. Pictures and Videos: One of the most disappointing things for many Snapchat users to find out is that all of the pictures and videos they send are saved and stored on Snapchat’s massive data servers. This means that even though the person receiving your message may not be able to see them anymore, the folks over at Snapchat can.
  5. App Usage Data: Last but not least, Snapchat collects data on how users use the app. This includes data such as how often you’re logging in, how long you spend on the app, how much data you consume and send, etc.

Snapchat Collects Data About You From Third Parties

Another interesting fact that many Snapchat users don’t know is that Snapchat also collects data from third parties on their users. This is primarily used to share with advertisers to ensure maximal reach for advertising campaigns. This third-party data could include information, such as your interests, shopping habits, what other applications you use, and your general demographic information.

How Do I Limit The Data That Snapchat Collects From Me?

Thankfully, there are a couple of different ways that you can limit the amount of data collected by Snapchat! From staying anonymous with a VPN server to using fake names, here are the best practices to limit the data Snapchat has on you.

Use An Anonymous Email

Although you can’t necessarily hide the phone number used to create your Snapchat account, you can use a fake or anonymous email account to create your account. This ensures that Snapchat won’t be able to collect third-party data derived from your email address.

Use A VPN While Using Snapchat

Another thing you can do is to use a VPN designed for iOS or Android compatibility while using Snapchat. This ensures that Snapchat won’t be able to track your GPS location or tell what the actual time of day is as you’re accessing your account.

Use A Fake Name

When you sign up for Snapchat, you can use a fake name to ensure that Snapchat can’t trace your account back to your real name. Sure, if they dig deep enough, they can link your cell phone, but that’ll be it.

Can I Limit The Third-Party Data Snapchat Collects?

The best thing you can do to prevent Snapchat from collecting third-party data on your account is to use an anonymous email, a pre-paid phone, a VPN, and a fake name to create your account. This ensures that all of the info that Snapchat does have on you is inaccurate and unable to be traced back to your real data and purchased from third-party data brokers.

Can Police See My Snapchat Messages?

Although Police don’t have direct access to your Snapchat messages, pictures, and videos that you send through Snapchat, they can get a subpoena from a magistrate allowing them to access everything you’ve sent through your personal account. This is why you should never send questionable content through Snapchat. Instead, use a secured, encrypted channel from apps like Telegram or WhatsApp to send these types of messages.

Final Tips

Although Snapchat is definitely a fun and easy app for communicating and chatting with your friends, it definitely leaves a lot to be desired in terms of overall privacy and confidentiality. Sure, they’re not exactly selling your information to the highest bidder… However, they are collecting your data and using it to advertise to you. Also, since they save all of your messages, your “deleted” messages are never actually deleted and can be accessed by government or law enforcement agencies with the proper documentation.

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