Who Can View My Snaps and Stories
on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Two questions we get a lot are “do you keep all of the Snaps?” and “do you look at them?” An earlier blog post detailed how Snaps are stored and when they are deleted, so now with the introduction of Stories, we’d like to share a bit about access.
As mentioned in our previous blog post, Snaps are deleted from our servers after they are opened by their recipients. So what happens to them before they are opened? Most of Snapchat’s infrastructure is hosted on Google’s cloud computing service, App Engine. Most of our data, including unopened Snaps, are kept in App Engine’s datastore until they are deleted.
Is Snapchat capable of retrieving unopened Snaps from the datastore? Yes—if we couldn’t retrieve Snaps from the datastore, we wouldn’t be able to deliver them to their recipients desired by the sender. Do we manually retrieve and look at Snaps under ordinary circumstances? No. The ordinary process of sending Snaps to their recipient(s) is automated.
Since May 2013, about a dozen of the search warrants we’ve received have resulted in us producing unopened Snaps to law enforcement. That’s out of 350 million Snaps sent every day.
Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps.
Only two people in the company currently have access to the tool used for manually retrieving unopened Snaps, our co-founder and CTO, Bobby (who coded it), and me.
Okay, so what about Stories?
The biggest difference between Stories and Snaps is that unless deleted by the user, Stories are available for 24 hours and can be viewed repeatedly in that time. Unlike unopened Snaps, which are stored until viewed or for 30 days if not opened, Snaps that have been added to your Stories are deleted from our servers after 24 hours. Stories are subject to the same legal requirements for access and disclosure as described above for Snaps.