Snapchat Apologizes for apps Snafu

Why is social media darling Snapchat offering a sincere mea culpa? That’s an interesting question, and the CEO of 5WPR says that social media has been and will continue to be a working experiment in instant public relations. One wrong tweet can end a career. One minor fracas on Facebook and you no longer have a job-friend-relationship-you name it.

Now, when you ARE a social media network, this dynamic gets increased exponentially. There’s no time gap between offense and public reaction. People are already in the public space, so they just start screaming. Some click over to create a meme then they come back and start another round of unrest.

So, that’s the general rule that provides the backdrop for this conversation. Enter Tim Sehn, Snapchat’s top engineer. Recently, he apologized in an interview conducted by Medium’s Steven Levy. Here’s what Sehn said: “I think one of the mistakes was not apologizing quickly enough. So I want to apologize to our users.”

Thanks, Tim. Apology accepted?

Well, that’s the thing about apologies. Sometimes they’re good enough. Other times…not so much. So, what is it that Snapchat did – or did not do – that caused the problem. Well, according to Sehn, they were not quick enough to block third party apps such as SnapGrab and SnapSpy.

Why is that a problem? Because these apps make it possible to save (and distribute) Snapchat photos, which essentially breaks the entire app.

The purpose of Snapchat was to communicate in a way that instantly disappears, like those old Mission Impossible messages, except without the explosions. This, of course, led to users snapping and sending loads of content they really would not want for public consumption. That led people who wanted to keep and distribute that content to look for a way to do so. These third party apps provided that option.

And, for a time at least, Snapchat did nothing. So a bunch of people sent nude shots (of course they did, that’s what this is really about) they thought were “private and temporary” only to have them Never Go Away.

So Snapchat is apologizing…and they should. But users should also get it through their heads…when it’s sent, it’s away…and its’ NEVER going away.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR who reveals what went wrong at snapchat, and how the company can rebound.