When Ts and Cs Directly Break an App's Brand Promise

On a recent visit to Snapchat, I was asked to accept a revised set of terms and conditions before proceeding. With all the recent controversy surrounding the lack of ephemerality of Snaps, I was curious to see what Snapchat had to say about the core promise of its brand. Not surprisingly, I quickly found the following statement: "We can't guarantee that messages will be deleted within a specific timeframe."

Given the surge in popularity of Snapchat, especially among teens and college students, this disclaimer is glaring. Based on the brand's promise, young people are using Snapchat as a way to communicate without creating a discoverable digital footprint. With this flawed belief, they are taking risks on Snapchat that they would not be taking on Facebook and Instagram. Unfortunately, many are finding out the hard way that any digitized post regardless of platform promise is fair game for public consumption and permanence.

After viewing Snapchat's terms and conditions, I was curious to see how Yik Yak's terms and conditions legally handled its promise of anonymity. Under the heading of "Information We May Collect Automatically," Yik Yak advises users that it collects just about everything they will need for a complete personal identification. Elements collected include "access time," "device ID," "IP address," "device name and model," and "your activities." It is no wonder why each week another teen or college student is arrested for threats made on Yik Yak despite that brand's promise of anonymity.

Yik Yak and Snapchat are representative of a group of apps that prey on the fears on young people. Unfortunately for the millions of users, they are more vulnerable on these social media apps than they would be on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.