Policy Update: You Own Your Snapchat Content — But Snapchat Does, Too

Snapchat recently updated its terms of service, and if you're a frequent user of the platform, you probably want to take notice.

Snapchat recently updated its terms of service, and if you’re a frequent user of the platform, you probably want to take notice.

Not long after giving Snapchat users new filters to play with, the site followed in step with Facebook and Instagram, making an important decision about the content uploaded through the time-bomb app.

Just because your fun snap from Disneyland (or private photo sent to a significant other) is deleted in seconds does not mean the content is gone forever. Snapchat affirmed users, in the latest terms of service update that they have ownership of the photos and videos sent through Snapchat, with a huge caveat:

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.

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.

This does not mean that Snapchat is going to start selling your sexy photos or geo-tagged videos. Instagram added similar language to its terms of service in 2012. This does mean that if you are on Snapchat, your snaps aren’t 100 percent private. Much like through Facebook or Instagram advertising, Snapchat could use your name, likeness (and even voice) to promote services — and you would not be entitled to any financial compensation.

Snapchat also noted that it can screen your content and delete it without notice if it violates the terms of service:

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.

This serves as a huge reminder that even though you are on a platform — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Google+ or whatever comes next — you are renting space on owned land. The photos, images and text are yours (kind of), but they mainly belong to the platform you’re posting to.

To control who can see your Snapchat content, the site suggests reading the privacy policy or contacting the company for feedback.

Readers: What do you think of this update?