Snapchat not sexting-safe, cops warn

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Jennifer O'Brien, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:09 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- A spike in teens using smartphone technology that promises to make pictures and videos disappear after being viewed has caught the eye of police who warn it isn't foolproof.

London cybercrime officers say the latest "sexting" trend involves using Snapchat to send intimate images that are meant to vanish after the recipient opens them.

But as a recent U.S. court ruling found, Snapchat's promise is misleading because there are many ways for a recipient to save images before they vanish.

"We want them to be aware of the potential dangers," Const. Ken Steeves said. "People believe it's safe because it's going to get deleted, but there are many (apps) out there that will capture the images without the sender knowing.

"It's also as simple as (the recipient) having another device and taking a picture" of the image, he said.

If police warnings aren't enough to shake teens' confidence in Snapchat, a recent U.S. court ruling should help. Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said the application was "misleading consumers" because there are simple ways to save a photo indefinitely.

"Consumers can, for example, use third-party apps to log into the Snapchat service... Because the service's deletion feature only functions in the official Snapchat app, recipients can use these widely available third-party apps to view and save snaps indefinitely," the commission said in a news release.

Steeves said police don't have statistics on the number of teens using Snapchat, but cybercrime officers have been hearing about it regularly.

Police who have seen teenagers devastated after having intimate pictures of themselves shared by once-trusted friends and peers say the best advice they have for teens on sexting is "just don't do it."


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