Skip to main content

Snapchat cuts off third-party apps, releases its first transparency report

Snapchat cuts off third-party apps, releases its first transparency report

Share this story

Snapchat has been one of the biggest messaging success stories over the last few years, adding a host of new features to the core "vanishing messages" concept that brought the app so much notoriety when it launched. But the company is growing up now, with advertisers and media partners as well as an ever-expanding user base — so the company today announced a number of initiatives to show that it takes its users data and privacy seriously.

Perhaps the most noteworthy change is that Snapchat has now blocked all access from third-party apps. According to Steven Levy at Backchannel, Snapchat has been working for months to make it harder for third-party apps to access Snapchat data, and now the company believes it has successfully closed that hole entirely. Snapchat never published its APIs, but some developers had hacked together ways to write apps that support Snapchat's features. This came to a head last October when a third-party Snapchat app leaked tens of thousands of supposedly private user photos.

Snapchat wants its users to believe it takes their security very seriously

That shouldn't be possible anymore, and it also means that Windows Phone users won't be able to use any of the third-party apps they've relied on to use Snapchat thus far. That said, Snapchat has been cracking down and getting third-party apps removed from all the major app stores for a while now — the company vowed to do so after last October's mishap.

Beyond the new third-party restrictions, Snapchat also joined the ranks of many other major technology companies in publishing its first-ever transparency report, which details all of the data requests the company receives from governments around the world. While it's commendable for Snapchat to make such info freely available, there's not a whole lot of note in its first report. The company received 375 requests from the US government covering 666 separate accounts from November 1st, 2014 through February 28th, 2015. Internationally, the company received 28 requests for 35 accounts. Snapchat says it'll be updating this report bi-annually.

Beyond these specific changes is simply the message that Snapchat takes your privacy seriously, something that wasn't as clear in the past — something that the company wasn't as up front about when dealing with past security issues. "We actually consider it a competitive advantage that we care that much about users' privacy and security," Snapchat's Tim Sehn told Levy. "We care enough to delete their data. That is something that most companies don't do because that data is valuable." If the Snapchat wants to keep raising huge amounts of money and courting major advertisers or media partners, steps like these are important to keep users trusting and using the service.