Snapchat is popular among the kind of people who do not understand how computers work and want to send each other naked pictures without consequences. Unfortunately for them, the modern world does not work that way. Especially since it appears Snapchat can’t even be bothered to cover its tracks when “deleting” photos.
In a revelation that’s likely going to get Snapchat pounded with lawsuits, it turns out that the app not only doesn’t delete the photos, finding them is shockingly pretty easy:
The reason the photos don’t vanish appears to be due to the way the makers of Snapchat designed the program. [Computer forensics company owner Richard] Hickman said that rather than have the program delete the files, it affixes the file extension “.NOMEDIA.”
That extension makes the pictures unviewable to most people, but Hickman said forensics experts have the capability to simply take the files out of the phone and change the .NOMEDIA extension.
Hickman says recovering the photos takes about six hours, but that most of that is spent just backing up the phone’s data in the first place. In reality, there’s nothing preventing you from jacking your phone into your computer, finding the folder RECEIVED_IMAGES_SNAPS, transferring the data, and changing the extension manually. Also, with that folder title, they really should have gone with TOTALLY_NOT_SNAPCHAT_IMAGES.
In other words, congratulations all you teenagers out there using this, you now have what’s legally defined as kiddie porn on your phone. To give you an idea of just how messy this might get, Snapchat “deletes” 150 million photos a day. It’s not clear what, precisely, this will do to Snapchat’s userbase but we’re going to guess that Stephen Colbert’s roasting of their profit margin is about to take a whole new meaning.