Snapchat and Poke are two new popular photo sharing mobile applications that make it easy to instantly share photos with friends. The appeal behind these apps is that each photo or video instantly disappears shortly after it’s shared. The bad news is that both apps feature a design flaw that makes it easy for anyone to save and store the videos for their own personal collection.
Buzzfeed recently shared an article explaining the design problem and how other users can easily save videos without the owner’s knowledge. Since Snapchat and Poke store videos locally on their browser, all it takes is a special application and a little know-how to access the videos (fortunately, photos aren’t stored). Users who cheat the system use a file browser like iFunBox. When they receive the videos, they tap the video to load without opening it, then they plug the phone into their computer to open up the file browser, locate the Snapchat folder and copy the video files onto their computer before viewing them. The copied videos don’t self-destruct once they are viewed. Locating files for Facebook’s Poke app is a little different, they are located in the library/caches/fbstore/media card. Fortunately for Poke users, the videos will self-destruct after the first view.
It’s important to point out that photos shared on Snapchat or Poke are still in danger, as receivers can easily take screenshots of the photos(or videos) and keep them on their device without the taker’s knowledge.
Buzzfeed got the chance to chat with Snapchat’s founder, Evan Spiegel, if he knew about this design flaw and if he had any plans of doing something about it. Spiegel explained that Snapchat’s users “embrace the spirit and intent” of the photo/video chat sharing program, and that there will always be a way to reverse engineer the service. Despite his blase attitude regarding the matter, it wasn’t that long ago that Snapchat did fix a serious video-saving flaw on Android. Later on, Facebook contacted Buzzfeed to let them know that they plan on fixing the issue shortly.
Since many people use mobile applications like Snapchat and Poke for things like sexting, users need to be more aware of the possible implications that may come with using such apps.