Lazy Flaws Let You Save Any "Private" Snapchat or Facebook Poke Video

Facebook built Poke in 12 days and it shows, Snapchat doesn't have that excuse

By on December 29th, 2012 12:41 GMT

Facebook trying to compete with the ever popular Snapchat hasn't worked out great. Facebook Poke, which is essentially a Snapchat clone, hasn't proven particularly popular with users. Meanwhile, more and more people are talking about Snapchat, all the attention is benefiting the small startup.

But not all of the attention has been good. The point of both Snapchat and Poke is the ability to send photos or videos to your friends and be sure that they're gone a few seconds after they're received.

This comes in handy in a number of cases, though especially if you plan to share your private something with someone. The implicit promise is that both Snapchat and Poke will keep your private stuff private.

But neither makes this promise explicitly because they can't guarantee it. Someone determined enough is going to be able to get photos or videos out of the apps one way or another.

Snapchat attitude towards this is that it doesn't want an arms race, so it's not employing any sophisticated methods to protect the content.

But it turns out that it's not employing any unsophisticated methods either. In fact, it's not employing anything, the Snapchat mobile app does absolutely nothing to protect your stuff.

Videos shared with someone, even after they've been watched, are kept on the phone's memory. All you need is a file explorer and you can get them out.

Previously, a bug not only left sides in the phone memory, they actually showed up in the phone's photo and video gallery, to be enjoyed at leisure time and time again.

"Reverse engineering" is one thing, doing absolute beginner developer mistakes and then saying that it's no big deal since people understand that the stuff isn't private anyway is quite another.

If the point of Snapchat isn't privacy, to a reasonable degree, then what is it. Because it certainly isn't sharing "serendipitous" moments.

Facebook's Poke app is similarly flawed, though not quite as badly. At least Facebook has said that it's working on a fix. Several lawsuits over much less obvious problems will do that to you, something Snapchat may learn sooner than it thinks.

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