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Law Enforcement Can Summon Unopened Snapchat Messages

Unopened messages can be manually retrieved by two people at the company: the head of trust and safety and the CTO.

Law Enforcement Can Summon Unopened Snapchat Messages
[Image: Flickr user idleformat]

There used to be something reassuring about Snapchat: Sensitive messages–say, sexts–disappear seconds after being opened and can be viewed only by their intended recipients. But users are learning of exceptions to the rules.

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In a blog post, Snapchat laid out its data retrieval policy and noted that it has produced unopened messages to law enforcement after receiving “about a dozen” search warrants since May 2013. “Law enforcement requests sometimes require us to preserve Snaps for a time, like when law enforcement is determining whether to issue a search warrant for Snaps,” wrote Micah Schaffer, head of Snapchat’s trust and safety department. He also mentions that he and Bobby Murphy, cofounder and CTO, are the only two people in the company with access to manually retrieve unopened messages.

Users should also be aware of an app called SnapHack Pro, which lets people save and reopen Snapchat messages without the sender ever knowing. There’s also a version in the works to share these saved messages with friends.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

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