Introducing Our Story

Snapchat has always been about sharing your point of view. That’s why our application opens straight into the camera. It’s the fastest way to share little moments with our friends – to let them know where we are or how we feel right now.

When we introduced My Story we never could have imagined how powerful it would be to string those moments together into a narrative. We love watching the day unfold with our friends.

But My Story has always represented a singular, personal experience. We wanted to build something that offered a community perspective – lots of different points of view. After all, our friends often see the same things in totally different ways.

We built Our Story so that Snapchatters who are at the same event location can contribute Snaps to the same Story. If you can’t make it to an event, watching Our Story makes you feel like you’re right there! It’s really easy to use.

We’re making Our Story available for the first time at Electric Daisy Carnival this weekend (and we’re providing free WiFi for Snapchat and Insomniac!).

If you’re at Electric Daisy Carnival, simply add a Snap to “Our EDC Story” that appears in your “Send to…” page. You’ll need to turn on location services to let Snapchat know that you’re actually at the event. We don’t store your location.

If you can’t make it to Electric Daisy Carnival, add EDCLive on Snapchat to check out the event – live – through a series of Snaps! If Our Story gets too long or we see any Snaps that look illegal, we’ll curate EDCLive to provide the best possible experience.

Our Story is already part of the application you have on your phone – there’s no need to update. Happy Snapping!

Our Agreement with the Maryland Attorney General

Today we entered into an agreement with the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland that—like our recent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission—strengthens Snapchat’s already strong commitment to our users’ privacy. Both agreements have much in common. Each resolved investigations that largely turned on how well users understood that recipients of their Snaps could save those Snaps. And each agreement concluded with Snapchat admitting no violation of any federal, state, or local law.

But there is something else that both agreements have in common: They never allege, find, or suggest that Snapchat itself retains our users’ Snaps. That’s important. From day one, we have promised our users that we delete their Snaps from our servers once they’ve been viewed by all recipients. That’s a promise we’ve always honored, and it’s one that neither the FTC nor the Maryland AG has ever questioned.

Instead, both agencies thought our users might not have fully appreciated the extent to which their Snaps could be saved by recipients, whether by taking a screenshot or using some other mechanism. Whatever the merit of that concern, it’s one that is old news by now. As we explained when we entered into our agreement, we long since revised our privacy policy and other public statements to make perfectly clear that—while Snapchat deletes all viewed Snaps from its servers—recipients can always save them.

Our agreement also addresses the Maryland AG’s concern that users under 13 not get to use the app. Notably, the Maryland AG recognizes in this agreement that Snapchat’s terms of service have always provided that the app “is intended for use by people who are 13 years of age or older.” And Snapchat has instituted a number of controls to ensure that that limit is respected. Today’s agreement simply formalizes those controls.

As we said when we announced our agreement with the FTC, Snapchat is—and always has been—devoted to promoting user privacy and giving Snapchatters control over how and with whom they communicate.

Our Agreement with the FTC

When we started building Snapchat, we were focused on developing a unique, fast, and fun way to communicate with photos. We learned a lot during those early days. One of the ways we learned was by making mistakes, acknowledging them, and fixing them.

While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community. This morning we entered into a consent decree with the FTC that addresses concerns raised by the commission. Even before today’s consent decree was announced, we had resolved most of those concerns over the past year by improving the wording of our privacy policy, app description, and in-app just-in-time notifications. And we continue to invest heavily in security and countermeasures to prevent abuse.

We are devoted to promoting user privacy and giving Snapchatters control over how and with whom they communicate. That’s something we’ve always taken seriously, and always will.

Putting the Chat into Snapchat

Building Snapchat has taught us a lot about what makes conversation special. When we first started working on an application for sharing disappearing pictures, we had no idea how much we would learn. Our classmates were quick to point out that you could always take a screenshot. That led us to the notion of deletion by default – you keep what you want, and we’ll get rid of everything else!

We also learned that conversation feels better when it’s visual. So we decided to make sure that every time you launch Snapchat we take you straight to the camera. It’s the fastest way to capture and share a moment on your smartphone.

With our last product update, we honored the true nature of storytelling – every Story has a chronological order – a beginning, middle, and end. We built Stories to help Snapchatters create narratives and share them with all of their friends in just one tap.

But until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.

We could not be more thrilled to announce Chat.

Swipe right on a friend’s name in your Snapchat inbox to start chatting. When you leave the chat screen, messages viewed by both you and your friend will be cleared – but either of you can always tap or screenshot to save anything you’d like to keep (addresses, to-do lists, etc.)!

We let you know when a friend is Here in your Chat so that you can give each other your full attention. And if you’re both Here, simply press and hold to share live video – and Chat face-to-face!

Happy Snapping!

Team Snapchat

2014 LA Hacks Keynote

The following keynote was delivered by Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, during LA Hacks at Pauley Pavilion on April 11, 2014.

I am very grateful for your time and attention this evening. It is absolutely incredible to see so many young people gathered here together to build things. I really appreciate you including me.

People frequently ask me about the keys to success and I’ve always been a bit curious myself.

But it wasn’t until recently that I found the answer. I was fortunate enough to have my palm read by a wise old man in a Hong Kong temple. In addition to learning that I will be married and have a son before I am 30 - he also gave me the three keys to success.

They are as follows:

1. Hard Work

2. Ability

3. Human Relationships

Given that you are all here together at ten pm on a Friday night with the intention to work together for the next 36 hours - I don’t feel the need to elaborate on hard work or ability. You clearly have those in spades.

So what I am going to focus on here tonight are human relationships, not the kind that are developed by exchanging business cards or adding each other on LinkedIn, but the kind that are formed over time, through deep, passionate, and spirited conversation.

I thought I’d share something that we do at Snapchat that I learned at my high school, Crossroads, which they in turn borrowed from The Ojai Foundation - the practice of council. It may sound hokey to some of you, but it is really important to us. It means that once a week, for about an hour, groups of 10 or so team members get together and talk about how they feel. And just like there are three keys for success, there are three rules for council. The first is to always speak from the heart, the second is an obligation to listen, and the third is that everything that happens in council stays in council. We’ve found that this particular combination is incredibly useful for learning not only how to express what we feel, but for understanding and appreciating the feelings of others.

A friend told me that you know you love someone when they’re the person you want to share your stories with and I’d add that they’re likely the person you most want to listen to.

So without discounting the importance of speaking from the heart or listening thoughtfully, I want to talk about the notion that what happens in council stays in council. Ensuring that the feelings expressed during council aren’t shared publicly creates a space for us to make ourselves vulnerable. It allows us to share our deepest, most unique thoughts - thoughts and feelings that might be easily misunderstood in a different context. Put more simply: we respect the privacy of council.

Unfortunately, privacy is too often articulated as secrecy, when, as Nissenbaum points out, privacy is actually focused on an understanding of context. Not what is said – but where it is said and to whom. Privacy allows us to enjoy and learn from the intimacy that is created when we share different things with different people in different contexts.

Kundera writes, “in private we bad-mouth our friends and use coarse language; that we act different in private than in public is everyone’s most conspicuous experience, it is the very ground of the life of the individual; curiously, this obvious fact remains unconscious, unacknowledged, forever obscured by lyrical dreams of the transparent glass house, it is rarely understood to be the value one must defend above all others.”

In America, before the Internet, the division between our public and private lives was usually tied to our physical location – our work and our home. The context in which we were communicating with our friends and family was clear. At work, we were professionals, and at home we were husbands, wives, sons or daughters.

There are few better at understanding the difference between public and private expression than celebrities, whose public personalities can generate significant interest in their private lives. When ones privacy is threatened, when the context in which one shares is collapsed, public and private become clearly distinct.

While walking through an airport recently, I was struck by a Newsweek Special Issue that promised to reveal Marilyn Monroe’s “Lost Scrapbook.” Indeed, a journalist had found a scrapbook that she had created for a photographer and friend.

The journalist writes about the scrapbook, “It’s Marilyn being natural, having messy hair and not worrying about what somebody might think of her or how they might look at her. She’s not looking at the composition of the pictures. She’s looking at what she’s doing in the pictures. She likes having fun.”

The pages are colorful, with Marilyn’s thoughts and feelings scrawled beside the imagery. Next to one photo of herself in a bathrobe surrounded by production gear, she writes, “a girl has no privacy when she works.” Marilyn felt that her scrapbook was a private place to share with her photographer friend. It wasn’t part of her public persona.

The Internet encourages us to create scrapbooks of our feelings that are shared, potentially without context, for the enjoyment of our friends, or our “audience.” Our feelings become expressed as information – they are used to categorize and profile our existence.

On the Internet, we organize information by its popularity in an attempt to determine its validity. If a website has been referenced by many other websites, then it is generally determined to be more valuable or accurate. Feelings expressed on social media are quantified, validated, and distributed in a similar fashion. Popular expression becomes the most valuable expression.

Social media businesses represent an aggressive expansion of capitalism into our personal relationships. We are asked to perform for our friends, to create things they like, to work on a “personal brand” - and brands teach us that authenticity is the result of consistency. We must honor our “true self” and represent the same self to all of our friends or risk being discredited.

But humanity cannot be true or false. We are full of contradictions and we change. That is the joy of human life. We are not brands; it is simply not in our nature.

Technology has perpetuated the myth of the transparent glass house and created a culture that values popular opinion over critical thought. We have allowed ourselves to believe that more information equals more knowledge. And increasingly, we live in a time when, as Rosen describes, “intimate personal information originally disclosed to our friends and colleagues may be exposed to—and misinterpreted by—a less understanding audience.”

Every time we express ourselves, we do so with the understanding that things we say might become permanently and publicly known. We are encouraged to express ourselves in ways that are accepted by the largest possible audience. We lose our individuality in favor of popular acceptance.

My concern is that we have developed a generation of people who believe that successful leaders are those with followers. I believe that the best leaders are those that stand for something, who have a point of view. And that point of view must be developed, not alone, but in private, or risk becoming normalized in search of popular support.

For encouragement, I’ve often relied on these words spoken by Roosevelt at the Sorbonne, who declares, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

We have built a society where all too frequently the men the in the arena are fighting not for their lives, not for their family, nor for their point of view – but for the spectators and for the applause. And we, the spectators, sitting in the arena, happily entertained, drunk and well fed – we are full – but are we happy?

Kundera writes that “when it becomes the custom and the rule to divulge another person’s private life, we are entering a time when the highest stake is the survival or the disappearance of the individual.”

I believe that time is now.

I will leave you with words from the final paragraph of a speech that was to be delivered by President Kennedy, on the day he was assassinated. On that day, Kennedy would have spoken during a time of war. Tonight, I ask you to listen as we face the battle to prevent the destruction of the individual.

“We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.”

We are all here to erase the stigma that says hacking has to do primarily with exposing things that others do not wish to have exposed. I challenge all of you to create a space this weekend, during this very important time, which honors and respects the thoughts, feelings and dreams of others. We have come here to find comfort and joy in sharing and creating – we must build thoughtfully for our future generations that they may discover the joys of human relationship and individual expression, as protected by privacy.

2014 AXS Partner Summit Keynote

The following keynote was delivered by Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, at the AXS Partner Summit on January 25, 2014.

I was asked to speak here today on a topic I’m sure you’re all familiar with: sexting in the post-PC era.

[Just Kidding]

I’ve always thought it was a bit odd that this period in our history has been called the “post-personal computer” era – when really it should be called the “more-personal computer” era.

I read a great story yesterday about a man named Mister Macintosh. He was a man designed by Steve Jobs to live inside the Macintosh computer when it launched, 30 years ago from yesterday. He would appear every so often, hidden behind a pull-down menu or popping out from behind an icon – just quickly and infrequently enough that you almost thought he wasn’t real.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t realized that Steve’s idea of tying a man to a computer had happened so early in his career. But, at the time, the Macintosh was forced to ship without Mister Macintosh because the engineers were constrained to only 128 kilobytes of memory. It wasn’t until much later in Steve’s career that he would truly tie man to machine – the launch of the iPhone on June 29, 2007.

In the past, technical constraints meant that computers were typically found in physical locations: the car, the home, the school. The iPhone tied a computer uniquely to a phone number – to YOU.

Not all that long ago, communication was location-dependent. We were either in the same room together, in which case we could talk face-to-face, or we were across the world from each other, in which case I could call your office or send a letter to your home. It is only very recently that we have begun to tie phone numbers to individual identities for the purpose of computation and communication.

I say all this to establish that smartphones are simply the culmination of Steve’s journey to identify man with machine – and bring about the age of the More-Personal Computer.

There are three characteristics of the More-Personal Computer that are particularly relevant to our work at Snapchat:

1) Internet Everywhere

2) Fast + Easy Media Creation

3) Ephemerality

When we first started working on Snapchat in 2011, it was just a toy. In many ways it still is – but to quote Eames, “Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.”

The reason to use a toy doesn’t have to be explained – it’s just fun. But using a toy is a terrific opportunity to learn.

And boy, have we been learning.

Internet Everywhere means that our old conception of the world separated into an online and an offline space is no longer relevant. Traditional social media required that we live experiences in the offline world, record those experiences, and then post them online to recreate the experience and talk about it. For example, I go on vacation, take a bunch of pictures, come back home, pick the good ones, post them online, and talk about them with my friends.

This traditional social media view of identity is actually quite radical: you are the sum of your published experience. Otherwise known as: pics or it didn’t happen.

Or in the case of Instagram: beautiful pics or it didn’t happen AND you’re not cool.

This notion of a profile made a lot of sense in the binary experience of online and offline. It was designed to recreate who I am online so that people could interact with me even if I wasn’t logged on at that particular moment.

Snapchat relies on Internet Everywhere to provide a totally different experience. Snapchat says that we are not the sum of everything we have said or done or experienced or published – we are the result. We are who we are today, right now.

We no longer have to capture the “real world” and recreate it online – we simply live and communicate at the same time.

Communication relies on the creation of media and is constrained by the speed at which that media is created and shared. It takes time to package your emotions, feelings and thoughts into media content like speech, writing, or photography.

Indeed, humans have always used media to understand themselves and share with others. I’ll spare you the Gaelic with this translation of Robert Burns, “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

When I heard that quote, I couldn’t help but think of self-portraits. Or for us Millennials: the selfie! Self-portraits help us understand the way that others see us – they represent how we feel, where we are, and what we’re doing. They are arguably the most popular form of self-expression.

In the past, lifelike self-portraits took weeks and millions of brush strokes to complete. In the world of Fast + Easy Media Creation, the selfie is immediate. It represents who we are and how we feel – right now.

And until now, the photographic process was far too slow for conversation. But with Fast + Easy Media Creation we are able to communicate through photos, not just communicate around them like we did on social media. When we start communicating through media we light up. It’s fun.

The selfie makes sense as the fundamental unit of communication on Snapchat because it marks the transition between digital media as self-expression and digital media as communication.

And this brings us to the importance of ephemerality at the core of conversation.

Snapchat discards content to focus on the feeling that content brings to you, not the way that content looks. This is a conservative idea, the natural response to radical transparency that restores integrity and context to conversation.

Snapchat sets expectations around conversation that mirror the expectations we have when we’re talking in-person.

That’s what Snapchat is all about. Talking through content not around it. With friends, not strangers. Identity tied to now, today. Room for growth, emotional risk, expression, mistakes, room for YOU.

The Era of More Personal Computing has provided the technical infrastructure for more personal communication. We feel so fortunate to be a part of this incredible transformation.

Snapchat is a product built from the heart – that is the reason why we are in Los Angeles. I often talk with people about the conflicts between technology companies and content companies – I’ve found that one of the biggest issues is that frequently technology companies view movies, music, and television as INFORMATION. Directors, producers, musicians, and actors view them as feelings, as expression. Not to be searched, sorted, and viewed – but EXPERIENCED.

Snapchat focuses on the experience of conversation – not the transfer of information. We’re thrilled to be a part of this community.

Thank you for inviting me today and thank you for being a part of our journey. Our team looks forward to getting to know all of you.

Snap Spam Update

We’ve heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service. We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue. As far as we know, this is unrelated to the Find Friends issue we experienced over the holidays.

While we expect to minimize spam, it is the consequence of a quickly growing service. To help prevent spam from entering your feed, you can adjust your settings to determine who can send you Snaps. We recommend “Only My Friends” :)

We appreciate your patience and we’ll keep you posted.


Team Snapchat

Find Friends Improvements

This morning we released a Snapchat update for Android and iOS that improves Find Friends functionality and allows Snapchatters to opt-out of linking their phone number with their username. This option is available in Settings > Mobile #.

This update also requires new Snapchatters to verify their phone number before using the Find Friends service.

Our team continues to make improvements to the Snapchat service to prevent future attempts to abuse our API. We are sorry for any problems this issue may have caused you and we really appreciate your patience and support.


Team Snapchat