- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2014

At least 100,000 stolen photos and videos from the image-sharing app Snapchat were released by hackers on the popular chat forum 4chan on Thursday. The crime has been dubbed “The Snappening.”

The hackers tapped into a third-party Snapchat client app that saves Snapchat photos and videos. However, the draw of the original app is that a photo will be deleted after a few seconds, often prompting users to send racy or compromising photos.

Users who view and share the photos may face child pornography charges as many nude photos were taken by teenagers who thought the images would be immediately deleted upon viewing. Half of Snapchat’s users are teens between the ages of 13 and 17.

The hackers had been collecting the data for years through the third-party app, giving them access to a 13GB library of photos, Business Insider reported Friday.

Snapchat confirmed with Business Insider that the photos were taken from a third-party saving app, an activity that the creators continually condemned, and that Snapchat had not been breached.

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed,” the statement reads.

It is not certain which third-party app was used to gather the photos, as there are several different ones including Snapsave and SnapSaved, but some 4chan users believe SnapSaved is to blame.

It is unclear whether or not the photo saving app was created with the hack in mind all along or wether it was hacked by outsiders.

Snapchat has come under fire for security issues before. In 2013, security researchers found that it was possibly to access the phone number of any Snapchat user on the app and the company was forced to apologize after 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers were leaked online.

The image sharing forum 4chan has also made headlines in recent weeks when an iCloud hacker leaked celebrity nude photos on the site.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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