18Nov

Snapchat: Child Porn, & Sex Predators

I’ve been trying to get people to delete Snapchat for a long time now.

Snapchat’s time as a fun way for users to swap pictures has come and gone. I briefly had an account last year but it did not take long to see that the risks/danger far outweighed the benefits other, safer apps could just as easily provide.

The risk/danger side of that scale tipped even further in the wrong direction on Monday.

On Monday Snapchat announced a decision that will bust the door down between minors and sexual predators.

Snapchat is introducing Snapcash, a new feature that will allow its users to exchange money within the app.

Basically ever since it began, Snapchat’s people have been trying to mask what it really is, a safe sexting app targeted for teenagers minors. With this new feature Snapchat has moved even further from their feebly crafted image of a fun app to exchange pictures with friends.

Snapchat users have long bought into a lie but the truth is nothing is anonymous. The pics don’t disappear and have been leaked over and over and over again. However, the foolishness of Snapchat in general is not my issue.

Here’s what the new Snapchat changes might actually look like:

Old Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another teenager (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps/pics unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends” )
  • 1st teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator convinces the other user to send some nude snaps.
  • Regardless of age, the initiator is now in possession of child pornography and has broken federal law(s). For more see: A Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography via the U.S. Department of Justice.

This scenario is what has made Snapchat into a $10 billion company. If you don’t think authorities take this seriously, think again.

10 teenage boys (aged 13-15 years old) were arrested last year for producing and sharing child pornography. All they were doing was taking screenshots of nude snaps their girlfriends sent them and showing them around to other guys.

Make no mistake: this is precisely what Snapchat was created to do. But it gets worse…

New Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another Snapchat user (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends”)
  • Teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator asks the teenager to send some nude snaps.
  • 1st teenager protests.
  • Initiator offers to send the teenager money via Snapchat.
  • Teenager reluctantly agrees, sends nudes and receives money from a sexual predator for producing child pornography.  

I cannot stress to you how extremely likely this situation is. It has probably happened several thousand times even since the change on Monday. The Snapcash function is now live on both Android and iOS version and is ready to be used.

Teenagers, you’re setting yourself up for a type of abuse and exploitation you know nothing about. Delete Snapchat right now. There are plenty of other apps that can offer the same services as Snapchat with much more oversight and accountability I know those two words may not have much weight on your life now but if you live by them you will develop wisdom to live the best life possible in a very foolish world.

Parents, delete Snapchat from your child’s phone. Have a conversation about these new changes and explain the dangers that come with this new feature. Explain to your child how you want to trust them but you can in no way trust all the other 100 million Snapchat users. For more see: 9 Resources for Parents: Navigating the Digital Age.

Pastors/Church Leaders, delete Snapchat. Do not use Snapchat in ministry. As I stated earlier, the benefits are no longer worth the risks and dangers. You can communicate with students in countless other ways and even if you couldn’t , your holiness is infinitely more important than your relevancy. Stay far above reproach.

How do you feel about the new Snapchat?

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About Steven Hill

55 comments

  1. I had snapchat for three days and after had three random people asking more pics of me that i didnt know ask to see me nude I was like no thank you and got rid of it….. snapchat needs to be banned in all honesty I am 28 yrs old with 6 younger sister two of which are still minors….. and I told them to take off there phones because the only reason i got it was because they ask for me to get so we could chat back and forth….. I will be sharing this its not safe and more and more people will come to find this out and thank you so much more let me know about the new feature they have on there

    • I’m grateful for the chance to help, Tamara. Let me know if I can help further in any way. I’ll be praying for you and your sisters. Thanks for reading!

    • i have not had one single person that i do not know contact me or even snap me.

      • That’s good to hear. I had tons in the brief time I had Snapchat

        • There is a simple setting to prevent non friends from being able to snap you. Don’t make it seem like there is no choice in being able to control who sends you snaps.
          In regards to your other claims, of course SnapChat makes it easy to send/receive inappropriate things, but this doesn’t mean that the app cannot be used responsibly and safely. The money sending function is kinda pointless due to Venmo. In today’s world there are numerous examples of how technology has increased access to mature and ungodly things. There are also numerous developments on how to control the access. Writing with that rabble-rousing tone and shock-value Title can discredit your opinion to many readers. The use of absolutes is also highly unfavorable and causes alienation. Stick with just stating the facts, include a few realistic possibilities (positive or negative), and then pray for everyone to use there judgement. There is no reason to continue to be a perpetrator of the culture of fear.

          • M W, another scenario which is just as concerning for me is the one “b” mentioned a few comments below where his daughter is constantly being sent unrequested nudes and is being pressured to return the favor…by people she KNOWS. This might be the most dangerous scenario Snapcash will now encourage.

  2. This is absolute bullshit. You do actually need to be friends to receive and send snaps to one another. A person can send snaps to a person while they wait for the friend request to be accepted, but the snaps are held as pending snaps until the other person has accepted the request. Furthermore, like any app, there are better ways to use it. Not all teenagers are on it for the sexting. In fact, at least in my area it is rarely used for that. For us, it is a fast and easy way to communicate. And how about instead of assuming that all teenage boys are using it for pornography purposes, use it as a way to educate boys on respecting women. Because the fact is, if you teach children to respect women… Apps like this shouldn’t be a problem. We are impressionable youth, and the message I am getting is that there is no other possible way to stop the high child pornography rates other than deleting an app. This is not true. Teach self respect, and respecting others and it shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Madison,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I really appreciate your thoughts and perspective.

      It is possible to only receive snaps from your friends but that’s not Snapchat’s default setting. You haw to manually change that setting which isn’t a big deal but why doesn’t Snapchat just make the right move to protect it’s users from sexual spammers (HUGE problem that’s getting them in trouble) and make the default setting private?

      I’m actually a student pastor that loves working with students! Few people believe in your generation like I do.

      I also don’t think education around self-control and respect is enough. I do that on a consistent basis I both in large groups and small. My faith plays a huge role in how I see people, including myself, especially seeing how evil and dark we can be when left to our own desires.

      Snapchat isn’t the too own; sin is. The benefits of Snapchat that you list (fast communication with friends) can be accomplished 1,000 different ways because these benefits no longer outweigh the dangers and risks.

      • I just made a new snapchat account to test out whether or not the default setting was to allow snaps regardless of being friends or not. It still came up as pending. The default setting is “Friends only”.

    • Yeah I completely agree with Madison on this one. Sorry Steven, I love that you have a heart for our young generation, but completely cutting out things that might cause problems is never the best answer in my opinion. Your article is loaded with definitive judgements like Snapchat is PRECISELY created for CHILD PORN which you really have no authority to make. Snapchat has been an incredible way for me to communicate with my friends in America while I work in Hong Kong and give them a glimpse of what my life is like. Yes, Snapcash has the temptation to be used for bad things I guess, but again, you could friend people on Facebook and send them nude pics as well. That doesnt mean we delete all Facebook apps and ban it from our computer.

  3. I agree with Madison. I live thousands of miles away from my family and my sisters and I have a blast sending each other silly little snaps all the time. It keeps us connected when we don’t have time for a full on Skype or face time conversation. As far as having faith in today’s young generation goes, I don’t know where you live or who you are communicating with that so few believe in us. If we are given the right tools and education we are on track to be the most innovative, free thinking generation the world has seen. We have access to mass amounts of information and that has been our baseline our whole lives. The app is not the problem.

    • Natasha, couldn’t Instagram’s messaging service provide the same effect?

      And you and I can know more than any generation before us but technology and information are not intrinsically life-giving.

      Again, my primary issue isn’t with the app in general, but specifically with Snapcash.

      • I’m agreed with most of the comments I’ve read. Snapchat is a great app, and it’s much different than Instagram’s DM feature. Of course, it can be used inappropriately, but so can Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. I don’t really see the need for the scare-tactic feel of this article. Just educate youth on how to use Snapchat properly. If they can’t, THEN have them delete it. It should be as simple as that.

  4. I appreciate knowing this information having just discovered snap chat myself. I have a teenager of my own & feel like any social media can be a danger these days. How is this different than any other way teens can communicate? There are several ways to offer & send money to someone in exchange for photos.

    • The best way to protect your daughter is to trust YOU taught her well enough not to send nude pics. For gods sake woman. I’m 16 and if some random stranger asked for nudes or even tried to pay me, it wouldn’t happen because I have GOOD PARENTS. So if you know you’ve taught her well, this app shouldn’t be an issue. But if you’re still worried, then I think it’s you who needs to change.

      • Mei, thanks for commenting. It means a lot to hear from a teenager in the middle of all of this stuff. Unfortunately, I think you, being someone with two loving, present parents, are becoming a bit of an anomaly.

  5. Thanks for taking time to share this development and open up the dialogue Steven. This article was my first exposure to your blog and as a parent I appreciate deeply the role that youth pastors play in the lives of our youth.

    I appreciate what Natasha and Amanda are saying, and really hope their use of Snapchat remains a source of something innocent and helpful. To their point, not all use of snapchat is about sexting (or worse), but it’s no doubt a bigger problem than many understand or care to admit.

    No technology or app is without potential abuse scenarios, so the best possible approach is for everyone (parents and their children) to be informed and prepared to manage appropriately. Not everyone will set healthy boundaries, but ignorance should not be an excuse.

    If you or others have suggestions on safer alternatives, that might add even more value to the conversation.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. STEVEN HILL …now engaged in conversation with unknown minors?

  7. Informative article..thank you Steven! God Bless!!

  8. Although everything you are saying is somewhat true, I do have issues with your argument. I do not believe this app was made specifically for the purpose of sexting, however it does enable it. But any social network enables such contact. I really believe that absolutely any social network is dangerous for all the reasons listed, but it is our responsibility to learn how to use them appropriately. Why preach to parents to not trust their children and delete apps rather than encouraging parents and schools to teach safety, responsibility and accountability?

    The fact is- the app doesn’t decide what to send, the user does. This is true for all apps. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, even regular old text messaging can and do enable such behavior. That’s why you hear, “let me slide into your DMs,” for Twitter and Instagram, Tumblr and Vine have such prominent porn culture, “as long as you don’t show your face,” and last but not least, this digital age of sexting came from TEXTING.

    Instead of giving a wonderful, fun and useful app a bad name for what the TEENAGERS (who are more than old enough to understand consequences of their temptations) use it for, lets teach them basic safety rules like- “hey, probably shouldn’t send a naked picture to someone.” We can’t let this generation be blinded by sheltering them. Teenagers need to experience life and be trusted to do what is good based off the tools we provide.

    • Morgan, I think we can just agree to disagree about the nature and intent of Snapchat. Look up their FCC penalties. Look up their refusal to deny access to 3rd party apps, which would eliminate hackers from leaks like the most recent one, with over 200,000 pictures leaked.

      Virtually every time Snapchat has had a chance to make a decision to protect the over 100 million users, it has refused.

  9. Is an article like this the best way to get your message across? Are you preaching Holiness (as Jesus would) or are you teaching moralism (as the Pharisees would)
    Your sentiments on snapchat have merit, I absolutely concur-but it does not mean that Christians who do use snapchat should live in fear from it. I love The Lord, and I do my best to live for Him alone… And I don’t see a need to delete snapchat.
    The purpose of ministry is to lead people to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us… Not just slap band-aids on temporary sin correction.
    Living above reproach is far more than condemning those who sin in a way that you can easily call out and target.

    • Ted, I respect your opinion to keep Snapchat and would ask that you simply return the favor in regards to my opinion. It’s my opinion that the dangers and risks of Snapcash far outweigh the benefits of Snapchat. I’m not sure there’s a need to over-spiritualize that.

      • I just do not think that as a pastor this Is your absolute best forum to get your message across. Blanketing condemnation is not something we as Christians should do.
        (I fully accept that by continuing to reply to you that I am in some ways hypocritical.. But I feel the need to tell you these things)

  10. Ted that’s a ridiculous reply to this article… instead of trying to seem like some wise, insightful person you just look like you never even read the article. Regardless of your own personal opinion IF you actually read what Steven posted you would see this is out of a genuine concern and love for people who can fall victim to Snapchat or any app where one bad decision can bring a lifetime of consequence. Pharisee or Jesus… wow Im still shaking my head at that (worst comparison ever… in this case) You seem to understand the purpose of ministry but miss the understanding of when people are called to shepherd, to lead, guide, teach… this is how it happens Ted, through communication, writings, sermons, lessons. You don’t have to agree with anything Steven or anyone else says but if you think good leadership is never speaking into things that are so big and wide spread they seem unstoppable and doing so is just “slapping a band-aid on it” then there are going to be many many many issues you will need to not speak into. We need to allow the transforming presence of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead people AND as it does real leadership, those called to mentor and raise up other are called to speaks the TRUTH in LOVE. That’s all Steve is doing here and guess what I have Snapchat and use it too (amazing I know) but this article doesn’t offend me!!! It challenges me to think about why I have Snap… what are the risks… what does being a Snap user says to others… and maybe for me that causes me to stop using, maybe I don’t… THE POINT is Steven cares enough about people to share what he feels is right in the hopes that it might make others lives better. He wants us to THINK about this… Not to judge or hate on anyone (please show me how you even got that thought). Even if this article saves one person from making a huge mistake or getting caught up in child porn or any form of porn, or saves them from a predator then it has done its job. Finally we need to see the point is how well you or I or anyone knows how to use Snapchat… how we are the safest users and never take nude shots and are Snapchat veterans… the point is about the risks that ARE there and to think about it because he CARES about people… See the LOVE, see the point. Thanks for the bravery Steven to share this in such a cyber sensitive culture. Blessings dude.

    • Thanks, TCav10. I appreciate your words of encouragement. Arguments are never won and opinions rarely changed in static forms of communication like blogs and social media but I DO believe that’s the best avenue I have to address such practical issues whereas in the pulpit I want to focus on the character and nature of God and how that intersects our life.

  11. Ok dude it clearly says snapcash s for 18 years or older, I don’t know how they would verify the age, but in theory your right but there is a huge flaw with your argument. There access to that kind of stuff all over the Internet. So based on your argument you might as well write an article talking bout banning the Internet. Ultimately it’s not an apps or a Internet site or any one else’s responsibility to stop this from happening but the parents and the kids. If they were raised the way I was raised they would know right from wrong and they would be knowingly be doing wrong so it’s falls on the stupidity of teenagers and they should learn from being dumb….I have done stupid stuff growing up but it was my bed to lay in and no one else’s fault. Personally if they have a SECURE way of verifying age then let them make that choice to send those pics (and by no means am I condoning that) people got to put the responsibility back into their own hands and stop blaming other stuff for there mistakes

    • Hey Kade, I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that our first front in this fight is teaching teenagers directly. I love how our church and parents are doing that. My thoughts are merely meant to be supplemental to that primary responsibility.

      However, I firmly believe that teenagers need adults to be advocates for them, kindly and humbly guiding them instead of just saying, “Figure it out on your own. Don’t be stupid.”

  12. I just want to say I appreciate Steven taking the time to reply to his comments on here. As I’ve noticed in comments above, yes Snapchat has benefits. However, you can STILL communicate with friends via “snaps”/pictures in many other ways WITHOUT supporting the creators of this app. Think to yourself, are the benefits of this app worth all the people who now are exposed to child (or even adult) pornography because of it?

  13. The thIng is you have to put all your info in to use snapcash, it’s not like snapchat is making you use it. I haven’t and personally won’t sign up for it cause I think it’s stupid. But as far as the app I love it. If your not Doing anything your not then I don’t see a problem in it.

    • BJ, my main issue is with the Snapcash function. I didn’t mention this in the article but they also plan to use the personal information tied to the debit cards given to eventually sell targeted ads to users based on their personal info.

  14. This is a weird article, I have the app and I Snapchat with friends that have now moved away after college, my brothers, sisters, and my mom. You could use it for sexting I’m sure, but I could use Facebook messenger for that or texts if i wanted. I’ve had a few random snapchats from people I didn’t know in like over two year, but they weren’t nude pics just random “hey what up sexy!” which don’t get me wrong is weird, but the same thing happens on Facebook, I have gotten more than a few fake friend requests or messages from bot accounts. I just think you don’t like Snapchat which is totally fine, but your haggling you opinion here, but what if people use money on the app? Thats their choice, but what if they use it for immoral purposes? That again is their choice. It just sounds like doomsday ranting, Make no mistake: this is precisely what Snapchat was created to do.” In big bold letters, you can’t know that, like maybe it was but maybe it wasn’t, I am sure the designers and owners of the app are using it to make as much money as they can as it grows in popularity. Your very first sentence is opinion and judgmental. Ive never used it for anything more than keeping in contact in a fun way with friends and family. People need to take responsibility for themselves, and parents need to monitor and help guide their children better than they do. Snapchat is not a porn site, its not 100% morally deplorable i understand your arguments, but if you want to advocate for the youth, warn them why its harmful to use an app like that, what could happen. Then block them from downloading apps without a password that they don’t know. So they have to ask every time they download an app. I mean this is the world we live in, its full of social media, and internet connectivity, we can’t keep damning things because they can be abused.

  15. Well My daughter has had several boys not only request nude photos but also send them with out being asked to. It is always i sent you one you owe me. I have a friend that is a cop so I called him. He said do you have the photos? Well no we dont they dont stay on your phone. Then how can you prove it? Well I cant. And thats the end of it. I dont know what this app was made for but I dont like it one bit. So I am not siprized there is a way to move money on it now.

    • B,
      Sorry to hear about how your daughter is being mistreated via Snapchat. I hate that for her. The authorities in my city recently made public several “anonymous” things sent via social media by easily tracking down the IP addresses associated with the inappropriate content.

  16. Everything you say about snapchat is irrelevant. You can send the same things on all social media. It’s people like you who cause parents to not trust their children

    • Ashley,

      I disagree. With the exception of Yik Yak no other social media app acts under the lie of perceived anonymity. It would seem that the real cause of parents not trusting their kids would be when their kids aren’t trustworthy.

  17. You can go into the settings and make it so only your friends can send you a snap.

    • Taryn,
      You’re right. But Snapchat has failed to successfully keep out sex spammers, adding people at a frenzied pace, many of whom simply approve all friend requests, which is foolish. Then they get nude snaps from people they don’t even know. Several lawsuits currently in progress surrounding this issue. Thanks for your comment!

  18. I don’t see why ur trying to end snapchat .I mean yea some teens are going to do that. I dont see why that affects everyone who doesn’t send nudes.an u said there is other apps I mean kids can send nudes on there to so why try so hard. I get that you want to lower the nudes being sent but people will find other ways to send an there is place in the setting where u can change it all to friends

  19. The app Kik is very bad for the same reasons I had an in counter with a person claiming to be a women that was tring every thing in her power to get my 12 year old daughter to send Naughty pics to her sad son to cheer him up…….I played along with this sick individual for 20 mins at least…….before telling her she better be glad I couldn’t come throw the phone !!!! There r a lot of sick and twisted people in this world ……..!!!! We all need to try to help each other keep our children safe……!!!!! Thanks Steve Hill!!!!!

    • Tracie, sorry to hear you and your daughter have had a bad experience with Kik. Thankfully it seems to be on its way out of youth culture and in my opinion cannot exit fast enough. Praying for you as you lead and love your daughter!

  20. I love my snapchat but I also have my settings to where only my friends can snap me. If a kid is going to do it then they will do it weather its facebook/snapchat/texting

  21. Nothing but paranoid “think of the children” fear-mongering.

  22. “Make no mistake: this is precisely what Snapchat was created to do. But it gets worse…” This wasn’t the intentions of snapchat. I think snapchat is a brilliant app where people can act like weirdos and there is no social standard. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, when its intended to show only the good things in your life and perfect pictures… People are going to find ways to misuse social media platforms. I recently posted about how people are going to use snapcash to receive nudes. Is that going to happen? Absolutely… And it sucks. But whats stopping me from asking for nudes on facebook or instagram as a “fake user”? Snapchat is great in my opinion. Its a great way for me to see what everyone is doing through out my friends day. Should a parent delete snapchat all together? No, just change the settings hahaha? Also if a youth pastor is using this for his ministry, more power to him… I hate when pastors try to avoid using social media, instead of embracing it as a tool to reach out to their ministry.

  23. Maybe also teach your teenagers to be smart. I’m sorry you Can’t blame an app if your child is sending not appropriate pictures.. And sending them to random ppl. who doesn’t have their setting to only friends can send snaps. I use snap chat all the time… And know many who do. Not everyone of the 100 million Snapchat users send nudes or any inappropriate pics…

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