Snap employees allegedly abused data access to spy on users

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Credit: https://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-venice-headquarters-risk-to-employee-morale-2017-2?IR=T

Oh dear! Snapchat employees may have abused data access to spy on users—a case of abuse of trust. Motherboard made this shocking revelation in a report where it claimed that the ephemeral photo-sharing app several departments within Snap have a tool solely dedicated to accessing user data. The report went on to add that multiple employees used the tools to spy on Snapchat users.

Citing two former employees of the social media giant, Motherboard reports that employees abused their access to this data several years ago. A current employee of Snap, two previous employees, and a cache of internal emails obtained by Motherboard confirmed the availability of such tools. The tools enabled employees to gain access to data such as phone numbers and email addresses of users.

One of the tools in question is SnapLion; this tool according to multiple sources and the emails, can be used to access user data. SnapLion was originally used to collate information on users in response to valid requests from law enforcement.

While tools like SnapLion exist for carrying out legit task behind the scene, it is not impossible that some employees could abuse the process. Using tools meant to help law enforcement in their investigation for spying on unsuspecting users is an abuse of trust; and unfortunately this is becoming a trend.

Data access abuse, according to one of the employees spoken to, occurred “a few times” at Snap. The former employee and the source told Motherboard that the abuse in question was carried out by several individuals. According to a Snap mail obtained by Motherboard, some employees were broadly discussing the issue of insider threats and access to data, and how important it is to checkmate it.

Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have. Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination,” a Snap spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement per Motherboard.

Reports like this one could impact negatively on Snap’s ability to effectively put up a fight against Instagram. Only recently, the photo-sharing app rolled out its redesigned Android app, and things were beginning to look good; but who knows just how much this report would affect its image.

The essence of the remake was to build an app that is much faster, cleaner and much lighter. This became necessary to bring the app at per with the iOS version. You may not get all the information that you need the first few seconds of signing into the app, but there is no doubt that Snap has done some great job on the redesign.


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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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