Moral Implications: Is Snapchat an Overall Good?

Based on my own personal experiences with Snapchat, Snapchat is an overall good.  There are many ethical issues to be aware and even concerned about.  However, these issues accompany many kinds of technology that revolve around privacy and digital media.  As noted earlier, we sometimes share too much and are under the false guise that what we show friends will only be seen by our friends and not by others.  There are also the issues of focussing on the aspect of sharing our experience rather than enjoying the experience itself.  I believe that this issue can be harmful to certain people who come to rely on Snapchat too often.  Since Snapchat is a relatively new technology, this issue may continue to grow, especially among younger generations who gain access to Snapchat earlier in their lives.  For example, my sister, who is 13, uses Snapchat.  Yet I only began to use Snapchat when I was 17 or 18 because it was only accessible to me at that age.  I believe that if younger people such as my sister gain access to Snapchat earlier in their lives it could be detrimental because they will see Snapchat as part of their lives and as an integral technology that is necessary to maintain friends and relationships.  As someone who gained access to Snapchat later in my life, I view it as an accessory, not as a necessity.  I was and still am capable of maintaining my friendships and relationships with others without Snapchat, but I fear that this will not be the same for later generations.

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Snapchat “best friends” section via Snapchat.  Source.

Despite these flaws, I believe that Snapchat, if used correctly can be beneficial.  From my experience, Snapchat can help to maintain relationships, especially for people of my age who’s friends and relatives are often far away and seemingly distance.  It can bridge this gap by keeping me informed about their lives and what they are up-to on a day to day basis.  Whereas before Snapchat we may not have communicated as often, or perhaps not at all, Snapchat allows us to keep in touch in a casual and enjoyable manner.  Through its other functions, Snapchat can also engender cultural and social understandings between different groups.  While it won’t make a huge impact, I think it is important for its users, who are primarily millennials, to see other peoples and places in different parts of the world.  As a result of these reasons, my take is that Snapchat is a “sort of good” technology with room for improvement.

I believe that one improvement would be to put a disclaimer, or to make it clear within the app, that all media that is shared is not private because it can potentially be captured and distributed by others without permission.  There is also the fact that Snapchat has policies that allow it to store and even redistribute and publish content created by its users (Francis, 2015).  This is a bit frightening and is obviously something that not many users, including myself until recently, know about.  Perhaps this policy is common to many social media companies, but because Snapchat advertises itself on the gimmick of photographs, videos, and messages that disappear “forever” after being read, then users need to know, or perhaps this policy should be abandoned.  Another thing that can be done is to inform younger users, especially those who are not adults, about how Snapchat is a social media platform that should be viewed as a utility for enhancing and maintaining friendships rather than forming them.  If a relationship is based off of Snapchat then I do not think it would be healthy, but if a relationship is maintained with the help of Snapchat, which some of mine are, then I believe that it is okay.  Parents have a responsibility to instill this mindset into their children who use Snapchat and/or other social media platforms.

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