02 Nov Snapchat at the centre of heated debates following changes to terms of use.

There’s a lot of heated discussion taking place surrounding the update made last week to Snapchat’s terms of service:

But you grant Snapchat 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). We will use this license for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services; researching and developing new ones; and making content submitted through the Services available to our business partners for syndication, broadcast, distribution, or publication outside the Services. Some Services offer you tools to control who can—and cannot—see your content under this license. For more information about how to tailor who can watch your content, please take a look at our privacy policy and support site.

To the extent it’s necessary, you also grant Snapchat and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice in any and all media and distribution channels (now known or later developed) in connection with any Live Story or other crowd-sourced content you create, upload, post, send, or appear in. This means, among other things, that you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snapchat or our business partners if your name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the Services.

While we’re not required to do so, we may access, review, screen, and delete your content at any time and for any reason, including if we think your content violates these Terms. You alone though remain responsible for the content you create, post, store, or send through the Services.

It turns out; however, that people are focusing on the wrong thing – Data mining and the capitalisation of user content is the bitter pill social media users swallow reluctantly in order to stay connected and share ideas across various platforms online. We all know there’s no room for privacy when tech companies could be making profits from selling user information. Data farming is something all major companies are scrambling to get involved in, there seems to be a major thirst for the census information flooding in through user input and yet, with all of this data-mining, invasion of privacy and money exchanging hands as our personal information is exploited; people STILL don’t actually know what to do with all of this big data, we are STILL mis-targeted by ill appointed advertisements which are simply just too easy for us to ignore, our personal info is being bought and sold by faceless names the world over and we STILL willingly put ourselves in that situation with eyes wide open because, well, there isn’t much of an option to do otherwise unless you remove yourself from social media all together like this young woman did.

An official comment from the company published yesterday has made it very clear that Snapchat has absolutely no intention of taking content out of users intended context, the only content it might reproduce and broadcast are; in fact, submissions published by users to the Live Story feature of the app, the statement makes no apologies for it’s current right to harvest data:

It’s true that our Terms of Service grant us a broad license to use the content you create—a license that’s common to services like ours. We need that license when it comes to, for example, Snaps submitted to Live Stories, where we have to be able to show those Stories around the world—and even replay them or syndicate them (something we’ve said we could do in previous versions of our Terms and Privacy Policy). But we tried to be clear that the Privacy Policy and your own privacy settings within the app could restrict the scope of that license so that your personal communications continue to remain truly personal.

Snapchat’s update to terms of service came as no surprise to the majority of commenters but the app was, at one time, based on privacy and the idea of temporary content which self destructed in a timely manner thus encouraging users to interact with the platform in a way they couldn’t on the likes of Facebook. There was more freedom to the content being shared, more authenticity – the logo is a ghost, there was no sense of permanence or accountability about the Snapchat content being created by it’s community, the company reinforced the feeling of security when it very publicly turned down a $3 Billion offer from Facebook to buy it out in 2014. The reality is, Snapchat isn’t participating in any behaviour most companies are not  already engaged in.

The most surprising aspect of the entire situation is how surprised some people actually are by the change in terms of service.

Surely, by now, we should all know you should never share anything online that you wouldn’t share in person, oh, and of course; profit is king!