What started four years ago as a simple photo-messaging application has turned into one of the most popular apps on the market.
Yup, we’re talking about Snapchat.
Since its launch in 2011, the app has acquired over 100 million users, collectively sending a whopping 400 million “snaps” per day, according to the Search Engine Journal. The app is used to send images, captions and videos, which the receiver can view for up to 10 seconds.
These short-lived images are very popular with the under-25 crowd, and Castleton students are no exception.
“I love Snapchat! I use it at least every day to either snap or check others’ stories,” said sophomore Tyler Anderson.
“I enjoy using Snapchat. It keeps me in-touch with my friends back home, and the effects are cool,” said freshman Kelsey Dunn.
Sophomore Pantira Ratanapratum also agrees.
“I use Snapchat a lot because I’m away from home, and it’s always fun to see my friends and family, and we can be all silly and crazy without other people knowing,” she said. “The sender can feel good about showing how they feel and who they are without worrying about other people saving the picture they send.”
Sophomore Kelcy Owen, however, has seen the dark side of this fun app.
“It can be a gateway for people who want to harass others. I’ve seen someone get bullied over Snapchat and there was no evidence,” Owen said.
One interesting feature of the app is the section for collective stories focused on major events like the Snow-pocalypse or X-Games. Users geographically close to these events can submit photos and videos, which are later available for all users to view.
“I find them to be pretty interesting, like New Year’s Eve at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the kite ceremony in India,” said Junior Mariah O’Hara. “I think it’s a great way to share events with people that might not necessarily get the chance to see them.”
Anderson does not find the stories quite as useful.
“I think those feeds can be interesting, but sometimes they are very annoying,” he said. “The Grammy’s and the X-Games were cool, but things like Australia Day was so boring and it was annoying that it popped up on my feed.”
Recently, the app designers have tried a number of things to make Snapchat more than just pictures sent between friends. Late in 2014, Snapchat made a deal with Square Cash to create a way for users to link their Snapchat accounts with their debit cards to send money to friends, according to techcrunch.com. They call this program “Snapcash.”
Most Castleton students are wary about this feature.
“I personally think Snapcash is a pretty sketchy idea. I’m pretty picky about where I share my debit card information,” O’Hara said.
“That’s just looking for bad news,” said Junior Brian Ward. “Snapchat is a huge sexting app. Add cash into the mix and you get snap-prostitution.”
More changes came on Jan. 27 when Snapchat released the Discover feature. Using Discover, app users can view news articles each day from sources like CNN, Comedy Central and Food Network.
“I’ve watched the videos on discover, and it’s cool how you can view news without going through another website,” Ward said.
In addition to Discover, Snapchat eliminated the best friends list which was a beloved feature for many users.
“My friends and I would have snap competitions to bump unwanted people off of their best friends list. That’s kind of unfortunate to no longer have,” O’Hara said.
Anderson feels the same way.
“I don’t like the new set up where you cannot see all your friends. I really liked the old snap chat.”