Snapchat, the startup that rose to stardom for promising to delete all content sent through its app within 24 hours, is turning out to be more and more like Facebook every day. That's not surprising, given the similarities between Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and Mark Zuckerberg.
Earlier this week, Snapchat unveiled speed modifiers that can add fast-forward, slow-motion and rewind filters to their videos. Along with that update, Snapchat also rolled out a new Terms of Service that, naturally, most people have not bothered to read before accepting.
The updated terms grant Snapchat all the rights to all users' messages, photos and videos sent through the platform, short of owning all that content. More specifically, Snapchat says that "you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with."
However, Snapchat retains the right to a "worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)."
In simpler terms, Snapchat says it can do whatever it pleases with all the content users post on its platform. The terms say whatever user content it runs will be used for research purposes to improve its services, but Snapchat also takes for itself the right to use user content for marketing uses, such as ads. Most worryingly, the terms grant Snapchat and its partners the right to publish user content outside of the Snapchat platform without the user knowing about it.
Snapchat previously reserved these rights only to content posted in the Live Story section of its app and other "crowd-sourced" content, but the new terms expand their reach more broadly to cover all kinds of content.
Moreover, Snapchat says it can use a user's name, likeness and voice published through Live Story for public broadcast without giving compensation to the user. This right is also extended to Snapchat's partners.
But for all the sweeping rights to user content that Snapchat claims for itself, the terms say the user is solely responsible for whatever content is uploaded to Snapchat's servers. The company also says it can access, review and delete any user content anytime, for whatever reason, including but not limited to violating Snapchat's terms.
The updated terms are not very different from that of other social media sites such as Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, although Facebook only extends its rights to content publicly posted on its platform. Even so, the rapid change of mind for Snapchat, which first billed itself as an ephemeral messaging service where all content is deleted after a day of being sent, has gotten it caught in the ire of some privacy-minded users.