Calling Snapchat “the sexting app” misses a huge shift in mobile, photos, and communication

Somewhat lost in the whole Facebook Poke/Snapchat brewhaha is what people actually use the different services for. Many people characterize Snapchat as a “sexting app” simply because the pictures/videos you capture with it have a lifespan of a few seconds. And its true that there is some sexting going on.

But as Sarah Lacy points out, there is a lot more usage going on than simply sexting. With 50 million photos sent per day (most of it in the daytime) its clear there is a bigger picture here. Evan Spiegel, one of the founders of Snapchat, has the money quote:

“‘It’s illegal to record phone calls and that’s not because people are having phone sex all day,’ Spiegel says. ‘It’s because it’s a violation of what a conversation is. It’s ephemeral. If you capture it, it loses the magic of what it is.'”

That is what’s really interesting about Snapchat and is actually a real differentiator between it and Facebook Poke. Facebook has established itself as wanting to archive your life, your graph, friends, and photos. Snapchat supports a fundamentally different activity…it never archives anything. It’s actually like a face-to-face conversation in which both parties know that nothing is being recorded.

In a world in which everything is getting recorded when nothing used to…Snapchat is actually kind of old-school.

Published: December 30th, 2012