Top Story: Snapchat Security Snafu
Many could say Snapchat’s response to the recent leak is much like how its users are viewed: young, a little self-involved and unwilling to take responsibility.
If you haven’t heard, over 200,000 incredibly personal—and supposedly temporary—videos and photos were exposed through a third party’s hacked website. Snapchat made it immediately clear that its network had not been compromised in any way, but rather Snapsaved’s, a website that saves what were supposed to be short-lived pictures.
Snapchat, though not wholly responsible for the leak, made no attempt to apologize or sympathize with victims, and instead chided users for their lack of safety awareness:
When you give your login credentials to a third-party application, you’re allowing a developer, and possibly a criminal, to access your account information and send information on your behalf.
Though Snapchat’s direct servers weren’t hacked, there are still gaping holes in the system’s security measures. Sean Gallagher of Arstechnica explains exactly why the app played a significant role in the leak:
SnapSaved…used a reverse-engineered version of Snapchat’s…API, which allowed Snapchat users…to circumvent the “instant deletion” feature of Snapchat’s own mobile app… [But] part of the problem is that the encryption keys used to protect Snapchat…and the files transmitted over them, are hard-coded into Snapchat’s apps. [The] API also uses AES in Electronic Codebook (ECB) mode—the weakest form of AES encryption for use with a single key.
Though Snapchat employees have claimed to be vigilant in reporting many of these third-party apps, the company is dragging its feet when mention of creating a more complex security system as an option arises. Snapchat has claimed it doesn’t have the time or money to create a public API in which a third-party community can be created. Yet, from the looks of CEO Evan Spiegel’s $10 million salary, the app is not hurting for funds.
Questions and concerns that have arisen go beyond worries about the app’s safety features, but of the brand’s image and viability as a whole. Mainly used by millennials and young social media enthusiasts, many have wondered if this app can overcome its seedy image and develop into a mature, advanced and stable tool.
Snapchat might not need to take direct blame for this incident, but one thing is clear: This leak is tied too closely to the brand’s image for the company not to take notice and consider reforms.
Tool of the Week: Thismoment
Thismoment aims to provide brands with user-generated content by accumulating and assembling photos, videos and other materials from social platforms, usually indicated with a specific hashtag. Once Thismoment receives consent, posts can be used for campaigns, incorporation into brand images, consumer sentiment studies and other forms of sharing. CEO Vince Broady says that Thismoment’s broad, multi-use platform outperforms other competitors offering specific but limited tools.
The service, though technically a startup, already boasts some big brand names: Some of its 150 clients include Sephora, Fleishman Hillard and Coca-Cola. The new funding, provided by Sierra Ventures, Trident Capital and UMC Capital, will be used to add more features for additional industries, expand international efforts and acquire higher quality content resources.
Broady’s comment that it “is essential [for a brand] to create an authentic connection with consumers” couldn’t ring more true. At a time when user engagement isn’t optional but rather vital to a brand’s reputation and image, Thismoment is at the forefront of giving large companies the ability to get a little more personal with their consumers, followers and fans. Using followers’ content—instead of just responding to it—is a new component brands can use to integrate customers into the company’s image.
The platform’s ability to mix different users’ content with fan company-contributed materials adds personal, relevant details that would otherwise not be possible. To see more of what Thismoment can offer, the platform’s Youtube channel helps to explain how it cuts through the endless sea of content and creates dimensional messages.
Under the Radar: Facebook Surpasses YouTube In Views
A study by comScore shows an impressive chart of Facebook surpassing YouTube in desktop views. The secret behind this success is highly attributed to Facebook’s auto play feature, which runs videos automatically when present on the news feed. However, the auto play video starts automatically without sound, which Facebook considers a “view”. It can be argued whether or not a video without sound is an effective “view” in communicating with the audience.
Marketers may not necessarily agree with the validity of this data, since it does not quantify whether or not the audience pays attention to the videos.
Facebook is proud of their boost in video views and released the following statement:
Growth in video views exceeded 50% from May through July of this year, and since June there has been an average of more than 1 billion video views on Facebook every day. Video on Facebook was built to be mobile first, and now more than 65% of video views are on mobile. And we’re just getting started.
Facebook’s analytics recognizes the surge in views and pushes up the videos in ranking and offers users more videos if they watch one. While this may seem as a success for Facebook, many mobile users are complaining of their data limits running out from the constant videos. Users who turned off their Facebook video feature tend not suffer from the data drain.
While Facebook videos using auto play are beating out YouTube in terms of views, the videos without sound certainly do not communicate efficiently. If auto play is disregarded, YouTube can arguably still be the resource for watching an array of videos, with a less passive and more willing audience.
Around The Hub: Boston Officials Outline Ebola Precautions
Boston health officials reported last Monday that there are three or four possible cases of Ebola in the vicinity, although none have yet been confirmed. Ebola, the deadly virus rampant in West Africa was first reported in the United States when Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas. Thomas Eric Duncan returned from Liberia and passed away a mere two weeks later on October 8th at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Anita Barry, head of the Infectious Disease Bureau confirmed that the possible cases turned out to be malaria and typhoid fever, both of which are commonly found in West Africa. However, she mentioned that the city of Boston, because of its proximity to an international airport, has a high likelihood of coming in contact with a confirmed case soon. She emphasized her concern by saying, “We have an international airport. We can have anything here.” It is evident that Boston public health officials are not taking the threat of this deadly disease lightly.
Last Sunday a medical center in the suburb of Braintree was shut after a patient who recently visited Liberia exhibited flu-like symptoms. The patient is currently at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, but has not been confirmed for Ebola yet.
Dr. Anita Barry also mentioned that the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission is dedicated to educating and protecting its residents. One of their programs involves working with groups that reach out to immigrants from West Africa.