Why I don't Use Snapchat

01/31/2020

Over the past few years, I've been met with questions regarding my decision to not opt-in to certain commonly used software, with Snapchat being the biggest deal. Unfortunately, I historically reach for bad answers, such as "I don't like it" and "It creates a bad habit". Now that I have an outlet to concisely and clearly punch words in an HTML box, I will outline the exact reasons I do not use Snapchat, for my personal record keeping.

The reasons why I refuse to opt-in can be put in bullet points.

Those second and third reasons offer me the most to talk about. As soon as you open the Snapchat app, you are booted straight to the camera, whether you want to take a picture or not. There are no configuration options to tell the app where you want to start the app, so you end up opening your camera repeatedly just to look at a text message.

From the camera, you're able to swipe left-to-right to reveal the text chat menu. The gimmick of Snapchat is that messages are "deleted" by default and the user is told if anything they have uploaded has been seen, saved, or screenshotted by the hands of another user. This feature is useless, since screen-recording software can be used to record posts without detection, and the animation between the message log and a chat allows the user to read the message before actually entering the chat screen, thus not alerting the sender of something being read.

If you swipe towards the left from the camera, you're brought to a weird page that shows a list of your friends' Stories - public posts (that must be pictures or video) and also an endless feed of Snapchat-ified news. The "news" ranges from BIG WORD CLICKBAIT to a cartoon about Fortnite or an account that exclusively posts "satisfying things."

If you want to access the streamlined list of Stories, you must go to this page. You cannot opt out of recieving news, and you cannot even give Snapchat a list of feeds that you want to see. You may long-tap a media-Story and proclaim that you wish to see less of that type of news, and pray to the black box of Snapchat that you will someday use CPU cycles to recieve news that you might actually want to look at instead of cheap clickbait. A news/media feed on a chatting app is already doing more than I asked it to, since I just want to see the list of Stories.

Since Snaps (videos) can only be several seconds at a time, and must be portrait oriented, all news is either:

Snapchat also offers side-services, like a find-my-friends-esque service that pings your location to your friends when you log in, and a avatar system that can only be used if you download a separate app. On top of that they offer small games ala Apple iMessage and other superfluous stuff.

I cannot simply message people I have on my friends list, I must also deal with a UI that works against me and constantly changes in its own interests instead of the user's, a bloated mess of filters (that you must download per-use) and services that I don't want to use and will instead be advertised to me like I'm stupid. It's insulting software that pretends it knows what you want better than you do, all on top of a proprietary protocol and a nightmare of a privacy policy that reserves the right to do ridiculous things with vague wording. A fun activity is plugging "snapchat privacy policy" into a search engine and seeing just how many results are articles attempting to explain away scares.

All these things people are willing to compromise with because of the ubiquity of Snapchat. Nobody downloaded Snapchat because they heard it was the best and safest thing around, they downloaded it because their friend told them to. Here we have software that holds its users in the grip of its culture and familiarity deciding to use its powers for evil. This reinvention of the wheel into a square isn't the treatment a user deserves, especially when there are better, safer, platform friendly, FOSS, and brand-independent technologies already out there that do the chat thing just fine.


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