We have all seen it, the Snapchat face. You’re at lunch, trying to carry on a conversation with someone, then they pull out their phone, take a ridiculous “selfie” and send it off to their friends.
Snapchat is a photo messaging app developed in 2011 by Stanford University students for Android and iOS devices. Users can take photos and record videos known as “snaps,” add drawings and text, then exchange them with each other.
The time for recipients to view snaps ranges from one to 10 seconds before they can be saved by the recipient or vanish from the device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers. Users share up to 350 million messages per day.
First-year St. Thomas student Luke Garagan, a frequent Snapchat user, enjoys the app because it’s quick, convenient and recipients can choose to keep snaps or let them disappear.
“It can be good, especially if you want to discuss something private,” he said. “That way, you know they won’t tell or show anybody. It deletes itself, so it’s convenient.”
Snapchat recently turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook to get the app. They’re considering selling ads to ensure the long-term viability as a result of the failed buyout. Garagan doesn’t like this idea.
“Snapchat is extremely personal,” he said. “You have control over everything you send to a friend. I think if there were ads, it wouldn’t be as personal or private and it would take away from the whole essence of it being between you and the recipient.”
Garagan said there are many ads on YouTube, which he finds frustrating, and worries Snapchat could end up in the same situation. He thinks Snapchat should charge a download fee for its app rather than use ads.
“It’s a free app now, but they could charge users 99 cents to download it,” Garagan said. “It’s one small payment and you could use it without getting annoyed by ads.”
First-year STU student Brandon LeBlanc, who says he uses Snapchat at least seven times daily, likes being able to send photos without requiring a data plan, a necessity for sharing images via text message.
“I have friends in France that I can send pictures for free rather than text,” he said.
LeBlanc said ads on Snapchat would be inconvenient but are unlikely to deter him from using the app.
“You can’t disable it like most apps, where it’s always online,” LeBlanc said. “It’s already free.”
He said Snapchat’s owners may be looking to sell the app at a higher price later as more features are added.
“They added videos a few months ago,” LeBlanc said. “They’re always adding new things, so it will be worth more money later.”