On Thursday, Mashable discovered that the most recent beta version of Snapchat had a new feature category that is called ‘Connected Apps.’ While it was not able to display any, the placeholder text stated “These apps are connected to your Snapchat account. Choose an app to control what it has access to.” In essence, this could allow third-party software have access to the data of the users of Snapchat.
However, a spokesperson for Snapchat assured Engadget that its current practices would not enable the said feature to spread personal information the same way that the third-party access of Facebook led to the mess that involves Cambridge Analytica.
Of course, that is still considered as speculation at this point — as we would not know how much information Snap would theoretically allow third parties to access. When reached for a comment, a spokesperson from Snapchat assured that the company does not share user-identifiable information with its advertisers and does not offer a service that is similar to the Graph API of Facebook or shares friend network information with third parties, which is what led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The spokesperson concluded that the said policies and the approach of the company to privacy would not change.
As Mashable cited, Snapchat currently enables its users to connect their accounts to two external services: Shazam and Bitmoji, which was acquired by Snapchat in 2016. Currently, users are not able to use their accounts in Snapchat elsewhere — however, Recode noted that Facebook has allowed its users do that for years. And while the social media giant has recently tightened up the amount of personal data that external companies are able to access, earlier relaxed rules enabled various companies to access the information of its users without their consent, which is how Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest the data of approximately 50 million users. While Snap did not comment on the record regarding the very formative ‘Collected Apps’ feature, the company is likely paying close attention to what policies led to the privacy debacle of Facebook.