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Snapchat employees spied on users with internal tool, report says

CNET logo CNET 5/24/2019 Carrie Mihalcik
a sign on the screen: Snapchat logo © CNET

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Your snaps seem ephemeral, which makes it easy to forget that Snapchat employees can view your data under certain circumstances -- and potentially abuse that access.

Snapchat employees used internal tools to spy on users, according to a report Thursday from Motherboard. The data abuse reportedly happened "a few times" and was carried out by "multiple" people. Two former employees told Motherboard about abuse that allegedly happened several years ago.

Snapchat reportedly has several internal tools that let employees access user data for legitimate reasons, such as fulfilling police requests and enforcing its policies. One tool called SnapLion, which was originally intended to help comply with law enforcement requests, was used by multiple teams at Snapchat and provided "the keys to the kingdom," according to Motherboard.

Snap, the parent company behind theĀ social media app, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but told Motherboard that protecting user privacy is "paramount."

"We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have," a Snap spokesperson said in a statement to Motherboard. "Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company's standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination."


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