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Snapchat bug leaves 'self-destructing' videos accessible in iOS filesystem

snapchat stock 1020

Snapchat might let you send videos that disappear after a few seconds, but its users should probably know that the content isn’t deleted — the recipient can still access it just by plugging his or her iPhone into a computer. BuzzFeed reports that by using a free, readily-available file browsing app you can still grab copies of the expired videos from your iOS device (no word on Android since a more obvious bug was fixed last week), and without jailbreaking. Facebook’s Snapchat competitor Poke is better in this regard, but not by a whole lot: videos are deleted after they’ve been viewed, but can still be pulled off the device beforehand. We’ve been able to duplicate the results from both apps.

"There will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products."

It’s hard to provide perfect security against unauthorized copying, and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel tells us that "there will always be ways to reverse engineer technology products — but that spoils the fun!" In Snapchat’s case though, the issue isn’t so much "reverse engineering" as it is the app’s failure to immediately delete videos that have been watched; something it does do for photos. In our case, the videos in question were still viewable even after clearing all messages from the Snapchat app itself. Few people are likely to go to the trouble of using an iPhone file browser just to immortalize that ephemeral video, regardless of how good those 10 seconds were, but it’s important to know the risks involved before you send something you can’t take back.

Update: For its part, Facebook is working on fixing Poke's bug, and it has released a statement to BuzzFeed saying "we are addressing this issue now. We should have a fix pushed shortly."

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