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Snapchat makes it easy to send those ‘private’ texts

by Dan Kricke

It’s happened to Greg Oden and Kanye West. Women aren’t immune either, because it’s happened to Scarlett Johannsen and that girl from HBO’s Girls, too. It’s probably even happened to someone you know personally. If it isn’t an epidemic yet, it may very well be headed that way.

I’m talking, of course, about people who have had the misfortune of taking sexy texts for someone only to see them spill out all over the Internet.

America has a long and titillating history with sexting, probably dating all the way back to dirty finger paints on cave walls. Coincidentally, just the other day I stumbled upon an AT&T World Net commercial from my youth where two teenagers are so enthralled with each other after a date, they go home and start messaging each other via the World Net service. The girl sends a flirtatious photo of herself to the guy, who Photoshops her head onto a winged cherub’s body and sends it back to her. It’s as weird as it sounds, check it out.

But the point is that while sexting, or what passed for it on a commercial in the ’90s, was seen as sort of charming and silly back in 1997, has since blown into something else entirely. Something more unseemly. Now our sexts are being leaked out to Gawker or Perez Hilton or our moms. And it is no good at all. But America is in too deep. An abstinence approach to quitting sexting cold turkey will not fly in 2012.

Developers of the Snapchat app seem keenly aware of this fact. They don’t want to stop you from sexting, they just want to make your life free of blackmail material. The app doesn’t mention any of this by name, of course. But I can’t think of a reason to use a picture chat app that takes the photo off of your acquaintance’s iPhone in 10 seconds otherwise.

The app works like some tool out of a Mission Impossible movie. When a user sends an SMS message using Snapchat, they can set a self-destruct timer of up to 10 seconds on the photo they send over. Once the photo has been at its destination for longer than 10 seconds, it disappears. Any attempt by the receiver to take a screenshot of the photo informs the sender immediately. There is only one word to describe this: amazing.

The only detriment is that the receiver won’t have much time at all to appreciate the photo they’re receiving, but maybe that would encourage even more texting? Perhaps Snapchat will be a boon to mobile phone carriers who have complained that people are using their texting plans less and less. And frankly, regardless of how carriers feel, it’s probably a good idea to have an eject button on illicit texts.

Who hasn’t gotten lost in the moment and sent along a saucy photo to an admirer before? I mean, aside from every single person associated with Appolicious including yours truly, because we would never. But supposing we did, it would probably be beneficial to make sure that photo didn’t get in the wrong hands. Snapchat may have finally ended our nation’s long national nightmare with stolen sexy pictures. Bad news for the gossip blogs, but good news for those being gossiped about.

Now if developers could find a way to delete all the other emails, voicemails and other assorted media messages we’ve left for our crushes in one fell swoop, we’d really be getting somewhere.

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