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Posted on August 17, 2016 in Crime

Snapchat Laws You Should Know About

Downloading new apps and programs is so common today that many people have given up reading the terms of service they agree to. The accompanying documents may span several pages and use complex legal jargon, further reducing a user’s desire to actually read them. You may want to catch up on some legal requirements for the apps you use most often. What you say and show on certain apps, both privately and publicly, isn’t always yours to keep. In fact, it could get you in trouble.

Snapchat has around 150 million active daily users. It has officially surpassed Twitter in terms of popularity. This is what you need to know about using one of the most popular apps of 2016.

How Law Enforcement Agencies Use Snapchat

Many people know law enforcement agencies sometimes use information posted on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to catch and prosecute criminals. Snapchat, however, is a different breed of social media. Each post only lasts a few seconds before it self-deletes, but the app has other features too. Users can use the platform as a messaging app or to create stories that are available for a longer period of time. The ephemeral qualities of Snapchat may lull users into a false sense of security. In reality, law enforcement can use Snapchat content almost as easily as content from other sites.

Under certain circumstances, law enforcement can access:

  • Basic information, including usernames, email addresses, and phone numbers
  • Snap message logs containing metadata
  • The content of messages, snaps, and stories (if available and in limited circumstances)

Other conditions may apply. For example, law enforcement and Snapchat may work collaboratively if they perceive an immediate threat associated with a user’s account. When you download the app and create an account, you agree to these terms.

Snapchat’s Role in Legal Proceedings

Snapchat only shares content with law enforcement officials as governed by law. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act compels online sites and apps to share certain pieces of information with law enforcement as the result of a search warrant, subpoena, or a court order. To protect users, Snapchat will notify individuals if the company receives a request for information from law enforcement at its discretion unless the courts prohibit notification.

Are You Breaking the Law in Your Snaps?

If you’re breaking the law and Snapchat’s terms of use, law enforcement officials and investigators may access your information and use it to prosecute you. In some cases, even taking a screenshot of someone else’s snap may constitute a copyright violation. Here’s an overview of activities that could land you in legal hot water:

  • Using the public story function to send out sexually explicit content
  • Sending a snap of someone else without letting him or her know and asking for consent
  • Sending a snap of someone’s private life or space without permission
  • Threatening, intimidating, harassing, spamming, or bullying anyone
  • Posing as someone else
  • Taking a screenshot of someone’s snap without permission
  • Using Snapchat while driving

Using apps such as Snapchat can serve as a fun and exciting way to engage with your network. However, sending explicit pictures or unwanted videos could result in a sexual harassment case in Arizona. It important to speak with a sex crimes attorney in Phoenix should you be accused of sexually suggestive behaviors.  Remember that social media is not your personal space, and anything you send may serve as evidence of your behavior. The message may disappear from your phone within seconds, but it may still exist on a server somewhere.

One final piece of advice: if you’re going through any legal investigation or other proceedings, avoid posting content on any social media site, including Snapchat. Defense attorneys, family lawyers, and plaintiffs may all use legally accessible social media content from Snapchat and other platforms to build a case.