On Thursday, the Snapchat messaging service announced its intention to spread its reachto other smartphone apps using a software kit that allows minimal sharing of data about users. Snap, the parent company,says that users will have an opportunity to use credentials of their Snapchat to sign into apps the same way they do use Facebook or Google credentials while restricting access to personal data.
The California based firm also says that the new software kit also permits free Snapchat features which include filters to appear in other applications. The primary aim of the kit was to make Snapchat more ubiquitous in a world that is dominated by smartphone apps. However, the building of the kit prioritized privacy according to Jacob Andreou, the Snap Vice President. Andreou further says that they did not lower the privacy expectations of their users when designing the kit.
The move by Snapchat comes in the wake of Facebook’s data privacy scandal that has recently rocked the top online social network. In the wake of the scandal, Facebook admitted that at least 87 million users might have experienced data hijacking by Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy firm. The firm has however since declared bankruptcy even after working for the current US President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.
However, Snap had already made plans for building the kit even before the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and its acquisition of data from users using a psychological research app. Since the scandal, Facebook has faced criticism for failing to protect its user’s data more carefully.
According to the Company, the sign-ins of Snapchat to other apps will make use of nicknames as well as ‘Bitmoji’ avatars as opposed to personal data from their profiles. Snap has also pledged to examine what applications do with the new software tools.
The deputy general of Snap Katherine Tassi asserts that the service learned a lot from an incident that occurred four years ago where there was exposure of images and videos intercepted from Snapchat. The incidentwas then referred to as “The Snappening” and involved people who made use of a third-party program as opposed to their official Snapchat application. They thus had copies of communications retrieved by hackers who then posted them online.
Tassi further says that following the incident, Snap committed to including security and privacy into the design of the Software kit. Snap has also been modifying the app to ensure that it broadens its appeal to the youth. Snap’s Chief executive says that they are now focused on optimizing the design based on the continuing experimentation and learning.