The maker of messaging app Snapchat reached a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission, after being accused of “deceiving” users about whether images sent on the service could be retained.
Snapchat allows users to send images and videos that “disappear forever” after they have been accessed. But according to the FTC, images sent via the service could be saved by recipients through the use of third-party apps.
In addition, the FTC said Snapchat collected personal information from users without their consent and did not take sufficient security measures with its Find Friends feature, leading to a breach in which hackers compiled a database of user names and phone numbers of 4.6 million Snapchat users.
“If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keeps those promises,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
In a blog post, Snapchat admitted “some things didn’t get the attention they could have” when the service was being built, including “being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community”.
“We are devoted to promoting user privacy and giving Snapchatters control over how and with whom they communicate. That’s something we’ve always taken seriously, and always will,” the blog post said.
As part of the ‘consent decree’ with the FTC, Snapchat’s privacy practices will be monitored for the next 20 years. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period after which the FTC will decide whether it will be finalised.
Snapchat reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year.