Snapchat leak: Why you shouldn't look at these images

Nearly 100,000 images and videos from Snapchat were released on the Internet. But anyone seeing the Snapchat images might be subject to child pornography charges.

Evan Vucci/AP/File
An iPhone home screen with Twitter, Facebook, and other apps.

Upward of 100,000 images – many of them explicit – transferred through Snapchat were released to the Internet yesterday. But anyone caught viewing them may face legal trouble. 

A 14 gigabyte file surfaced on viralpop.com, which was quickly taken down. But not before hundreds of copies of the file, containing 85,000 images a 9,000 videos, were downloaded, according to Yahoo News. These images and videos are now showing up on Reddit and 4chan.

By some estimates, 50 percent of Snapchat users between the ages of 13 and 17. That means downloading these images could open any viewers to child pornography charges. One of Snapchat's central features is that images are only supposed to be temporarily viewable to recipients - which means some teens are using the app for sexting.   

In fact, those who have already downloaded the Snapchat image file said many of the pictures constitute child pornography.

“I highly suggest you don’t download this s**t,” one user posted on 4chan. “I deleted it as soon as I saw how much [child pornography] there is on it, don’t be a part of the snappening, don’t seed it, don’t share it, just get rid of it.”

Warnings surfaced on Reddit before the photos did. Two days ago in a thread titled “The Snappening: Nude teen photos exposed in major Snapchat leak,” a user posted: “Spoiler, there's going to be a lot of underage porn. I would avoid it for anyone thinking about looking for the photos.”

“Would not touch with a 50ft ethernet cable,” another Redditor responded.  

Snapchat distanced itself from the security breach, according the International Business Times, saying the leak came from third-party apps "that users download in order to save photos and videos that would usually be deleted by the messaging app.”

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” the company said in a statement, adding that Snapchatters were victimized by their own use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, which is prohibited in the app’s Terms of Use “precisely because they compromise our users’ security.”

Snapsaved.com, a third-party app that creates a personal library of snaps, claimed full responsibility in a posting on its Facebook page Saturday.

According to the statement, the hackers never had access to any personal information such as usernames, though they did access 500 megabytes of images.

“Snapsaved has always tried to fight child pornography, we have even gone as far, as to reporting some of our Users to the Swedish and Norwegian authorities,” the statement said, adding that as soon as the breach was discovered, the entire website and associated database were shut down.

The majority of affected users are Swedish, Norwegian, and American, according to the statement.

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