So You Want to Join Snapchat, eh?



Image from: My personal Snapchat Story

Snapchat is a free mobile application that allows users to send photographs and videos directly to their friends. Once these photographs and videos are sent, the receiver only has one to ten seconds to view the media, depending on the allotted time the receiver set. After those seconds pass, that photo or video is deleted forever. On Snapchat, there is a tool that allows users to write captions, add doodles or draw directly on the photograph or video. There are also several different filters and Geofilters that users can add to enhance the color of the media or to add a stamp about where they are located. Additionally, there are lenses that allow users to add real-time special effects and sounds to their snapchats, such as looking like a dog or distorting the user’s face.


The Founders of Snapchat. Image from: Business Insider

Snapchat is an application for smart phones that was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown who were all students at Stanford University, according to Forbes Magazine. When the application was first launched to the Apple App Store on July 13, 2011, it was then called Picaboo. The application did not take off immediately, unlike the recent Pokémon Go craze. In fact, it was so unpopular that by the end of the summer in 2011, there were only 127 users. In order to gain more users, Brown suggested marketing the app as a sexting tool. They did not pursue this route and shortly after this, Brown decided to drop out of this project. He asked for 30% of the company, but Spiegel and Murphy denied him that. According to Business Insider, Brown filed a lawsuit claiming that he came up with the idea for the disappearing photos but was pushed out and not given equity. In 2014, the lawsuit was settled, but the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

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According to Forbes Magazine, in Fall of 2011, Spiegel and Murphy received a cease-and-desist letter from a photo-book company that had the name Picaboo before the application. Due to this letter, the co-founders decided to change the name to Snapchat. After the name change, Snapchat started to take off. In December of 2012, Snapchat became available to Android users. Additionally, Snapchat added video snaps to the app in the same month. By February of 2013, 60 million snaps were being sent each day. By May of 2013, that number rose to 150 million snaps sent each day. There have been numerous updates added throughout the years that has attracted more and more users.

Zuckerberg tried to buy Snapchat but the founders declined. Image from: Forbes

Today Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, who is just 26 years old, is worth $2.1 billion, according to Forbes. Murphy, who is 28 years old, is worth $1.8 billion. While this seems like a lot of money for these young innovators, it is nothing compared to the Cofounder, Creator and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, age 32, is worth a whopping $55.2 billion, according to Forbes. Due to the recent decline in teen usage of Facebook, Zuckerberg attempted to buy Snapchat in 2013, according to Forbes. Zuckerberg offered Spiegel and Murphy $3 billion in cash, but they declined.

The big draw of Snapchat, is that the photograph or video disappears after the amount of seconds that the user allots for it to be shown. This time can be anywhere from one second to ten seconds. The only way that a person could save a photo sent to them, is if they screenshot the photograph. However, if a receiver screenshots a snapchat, the sender will be notified of this action on the application.

Before Snapchat, people would have to send funny or embarrassing photographs through text messages. When people did this, the receiver always had the power to save these photographs and do whatever they wanted with them. People love sending funny and embarrassing media through Snapchat these days due to the fact that it disappears.

Several of the most commonly seen friend emojis. Image from: Elite Daily

There are several Friend Emojis that occur within the app. These emojis change based on how users interact with their friends on Snapchat. Friend emojis are private, meaning that only a user can see them. The fire emoji represents a streak between two friends. That means that two friends have been snapping back and forth for several days. This number can get up to the hundreds if two friends keep the streak going. Snapchatters treat streaks almost as a game. To lose the streak would mean to lose the game. These emojis reveal a lot about users friendships and relationships.

With Snapchat, users can also send videos to friends. This was first launched in December 2012. The videos, like photographs, can only be ten seconds long. With a video, receivers can not save the entire video through a screenshot. If a receiver was to screenshot a video, they would only be able to capture a single frame within that video. The video feature is very commonly used at live events, such as concerts and sporting events.

Image from: Business Insider

Snapchat also has a feature called MyStory, which was launched in 2013. This is when a user can post whatever photograph or video they want for all of their friends on Snapchat to see. Depending on how many friends that a user has on Snapchat, this could be hundreds of people seeing this photograph or video. MyStory typically illustrates what people are doing at a given time. More often then not, someone will post a MyStory when they are having fun with their friends. This story will expire within 24 hours of it being posted on to someone’s story. Snapchatters can see the analytics of the story that they post. They can see if anyone took a screen shot and who it was that took the screenshot. Also, they can see a list of all the people that viewed the story. A lot of Snapchat users follow their favorite celebrities, athletes and bloggers on Snapchat so they can follow their My Stories. One celebrity that is very famous for their presence on Snapchat is DJ Khaled.


There is also a feature on Snapchat in which users can direct message their friends through the Chat feature. This feature was added in May of 2014. Just like sending a photo or video, the message that was sent disappears after reading it. If anyone screenshots the direct message conversation or photographs sent within the private conversations, the sender will also receive a notification that a screenshot occurred. This contrasts with when people have normal text message conversations. Everyday people screenshot text message conversations with someone and send it along to their friends for reasons like advice, to mock the other person and many other personal motivators.

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In May of 2014, Snapchat also added video chat to the app. This essentially allows someone to FaceTime or Skype through the Snapchat app. To start a video chat, snapchatters have to click the video icon within a direct message window. Friends can choose to ‘watch’ or ‘join’. If a friend chooses to ‘watch’, the user will not be able to see their friend, but the friend can hear, see and send the user chats.  If they choose to ‘join’, they will both be able to hear and see each other. If a user’s friend is not available, the user can leave a ‘note’. This can be done by pressing and holding down the video sign. When a user lifts their finger the ‘note’ will send to the friend.

In the most recent addition to Snapchat, media companies have created a relationship with Snapchat that allows them to post information to the Discover section. Some of the organizations that post for the Discover

The Discover page for Snapchat. Image from:

section are Buzzfeed, People, CNN, ESPN, Food Network and many more. Some of the organizations just post feature stories and others are more news based. Due to this update, many young people are using Snapchat in order to consume their daily news. According to a survey done by Variety, 30 percent of Snapchat users are using the Discover section as their primary means for getting information about the 2016 Presidential Election.

An example of the Live stories. Image from:


There is also a Live section on Snapchat. This features live pictures and videos from snapchatters at events and locations around the world. These live stories only stay up for 24 hours. Some examples of Live events one would have access to are baseball games, college campuses on weekends, award shows, and many more events of this nature. The Live section is curated by Snapchat.

Additionally, there is a feature called Snapcash. This a way for snapchatters to pay each other money within the Chat feature of the app. In order to do this, users have to connect their debit card to the app. This feature is made possible through a partnership with Square. Before this feature was added, people would have to repay friends and family in cash, which a lot of times would lead to people not getting paid back. However, a competing app with this feature, is a popular app called Venmo.


It has been a long road for Snapchat to get where it is today, however since 2011 Snapchat has grown exponentially and made many social media innovations. Snapchat lovers can only expect more new and exciting improvements in years to come from Spiegel and Murphy.

Works Cited:

Snapchat Content Survey: How Much Millennials Actually Use Live Stories, Discover and More

History of Snapchat Image from:

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