Article by: Carlos P.

Snapchat. It’s one of those concepts you and your friends might have come up with over a meal’s conversation, but it’s the fastest growing social network in the world. A good majority of us have it on our phones and send snaps to our friends on a regular basis. The company reports that an average of 350 million snaps are sent per day globally. In the age of social media, Snapchat offers users the opportunity to send friends pictures that are then deleted after a few seconds. Sounds simple enough.

Snapchat was first conceptualized in 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown, two Stanford product design students, as a project for their class. Later, the pair would introduce a coder by the name of Bobby Murphy to bring their idea to life. Four years later, the company is now worth over $163 million. So why has it suddenly become so influential in this day and age where new social media apps are popping up like school-related obligations on a peaceful Sunday night?

The answer lies in the nature of photos sent through Snapchat. Like the messages of Mission Impossible’s IMF, any media sent through Snapchat can only be viewed for as long as the sender chooses, after which it will “self-destruct” and disappear into the digital void. In a world where we’re constantly reminded by teachers, counselors, and even fellow students that anything you post online cannot be erased, the nature of Snapchat renders the possibility of someone taking an embarrassing or controversial picture and using it in the future almost moot. You’re even notified if one of your friends takes a screenshot of your snap, letting you know who is still in possession of it once you’ve sent it out.

Another advantage of the timer on photos is to save space. Even before the development and release of Snapchat, it was possible to send other people pictures via text message. However, the picture would remain on your phone unless you manually deleted it. With Snapchat, the picture auto-deletes after a set period of time, saving space on your phone as well as offering convenience.

Finally, the inclusion of a simple pen tool turns Snapchat into an incredible time sink for some. Have you ever wanted to make a friend look like a giant squid? Have you ever wanted to give your dog people clothes? Do you ever wish your eyebrows were more intense and fiery? Snapchat can do all these things and more, provided you’re willing to take a couple of minutes of work.

With a simple interface and a unique, one-of-a-kind concept, Snapchat has earned its place in the social media pantheon among the likes of Facebook and Instagram, and will undoubtedly continue to make history.

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