Mar 2, 2013

Second Verse, Same as the First: SnapChat and Your Digital Footprint

The media is all abuzz about SnapChat - the app that lets you send pics that expire and you can't save them.

Er, well, actually, there a myriad of ways to save them.

As is often said: ANYTHING you send electronically can last forever.

Need proof? Just do a tumblr search for snapchat tagged pics. Be warned, many of the pics are not safe for work, and certainly not safe for kids. There sure are a lot of them for an app that doesn't "let" you save the photos.

No matter what apps are out there, or what ANY app or website says: nothing online disappears forever - someone, somewhere will find a way to store it.

The best defense? Use your head.

Look, people have been preaching the gospel of digital footprints, digital dossiers, online presence, blah blah blah for years, heck decades, now.  Just as "look both ways before you cross the street" still rings true, so does the adage, "Think before you post."

If you are a teen and you are reading this, first of all, thanks. Second, don't be stupid. Just as you go searching for anything and everything under the sun, so do the people who decide whether or not you should get a paycheck at their company.  Seriously.  If you wanted to come work for me, the first thing I'm doing before we even talk face-to-face: I'm checking your online presence.  Are you posting party pics? Half-naked pics? Ranting, cuss-filled posts?  You won't be hired. You probably won't even be called for an interview.  Are you posting thought-provoking questions? Appropriate photos of things that interest you? Items related to the job you'd like? We'd talk.

That aside, the main reason for this post: Just a reminder that no matter what ANYONE says, NOTHING is temporary online.  SnapChat claims to delete the info from their servers.  Ever deleted something from your computer? Know how easy it is to get it back? Pretty easy, actually. Do a quick search for "file recovery" and you'll find a ton of tools.  Don't want to do it yourself? Hire someone to find the deleted data.  Think SnapChat servers are immune? Nope. Anyone with half a mind to recover "deleted" pictures will be able to pull off terabytes of photos-gone-by.

Should you stop using it? Of course not. I'm not an idiot. But, as with everything online, know what you are REALLY getting into. Use it wisely.

And, please, keep your clothes on.


  1. The media is abuzz about SnapChat because you keep talking about it.

    Good advice.

    For file recovery I like Recuva.

    I use some other tools to clean up after myself. But they aren't for the casual user and can be dangerous if not used correctly.

    I try to attend the East Tennessee Cyber Security Conference each year. Amazing the stories that get told about knuckleheads. Both the smarmy teenagers and the seasoned professionals.

    David, please practice what you preach. I mean, keep your clothes on.

    1. That conference sounds cool. I may need to attend that myself! As for my advice: you aren't the first to tell me that.