Only in certain limited circumstances may Snapchat be able to provide copies of your Snaps to the police. Snapchat content is deleted from the Snapchat servers once all recipients of your Snaps have viewed it. In the event a Snap remains unopened by the person you sent it to, it will be deleted automatically 30 days after it was sent. Depending on which function of Snapchat you use (My Story, Chat, or My Memories), the time period for retaining those records is different.
For example, Story content published on Snapchat may be available for up to 24 hours, or until deleted by a user.Chat content may be kept temporarily by Snapchat, but only if the sender or recipient chooses to save the Chat, or if the Chat is unopened. My Memories content may be available to police but only until deleted by a user. Basic User Information entered by the user in creating a Snapchat account is retained by Snapchat indefinitely, as long as the user has not edited the information or removed the information from the account. Once a user makes changes to their User Information, the previously existing information is overwritten. Log Information of Snaps sent/received is also kept by Snapchat, but only for the previous 31 days of Snaps – the content of the Snaps, however, may not be available if the message has been opened or the Story post has expired.
Although Snapchat has taken some great initiatives to protect its users’ privacy, the real risk remains with the audience or recipients of the Snaps or messages you send. Screenshots of your Snaps can still preserve the content and allow it to be shared with law enforcement or elsewhere online.
Pro-Tip: Don’t send Snaps you wouldn’t want the police to see. Keep your “friends” limited and don’t publish sensitive content to Stories that can be viewed by “not really your friends.” If you do have a concern about how your Snaps have been shared or used by law enforcement, call our office to speak with one of our experienced Social Media Crime Attorneys.