Oh Snap

The Real Story Behind Snapchat Leaked, the Site Publishing Screenshots of Your Embarrassing Snaps

Of course it was a brainchild of a teenager.
(Photo: BBC/Snapchats Leaked)

(Photo: BBC/Snapchats Leaked)

Over the past 24 hours, the fears of every avid Snapchat user were realized. The sexy, silly and innocuous photos sent using the buzzy app were being submitted for all to see and share on Snapchat Leaked, a website that collected and published user-submitted screenshots. It garnered worldwide attention for breaking the first (and unwritten) rule of the ephemeral app: What ever happens on Snapchat, stays there.

Then, faster than it takes for a Snapchat to dissolve, Snapchat Leaked disappeared.

Judging by the varying load times, the site’s nearly 24-hour run of dominance didn’t appear to handle the traffic or popularity particularly well. This morning, it was replaced by a spammy storefront hawking junky surveys to gain admittance before it was reduced to its current sad state: a page that forwards users to a hosting company website.

But Snapchat Leaked (note the lack of pluralism), was just merely a knock-off of a Facebook page that sparked all of this.

Snapchats Leaked (NSFW) originally began on Facebook by a rambunctious 18-year-old Brit named Joshua Brandwood and a friend. The page quickly attracted 500,000 likes before it was pulled by the social networking site for violating its rules regarding “bullying and harassment.”

Critics flogged Mr. Brandwood for violating the privacy of the app’s users, who are under the impression that once the snap disappears from their friend’s screen it’s gone forever, rather than permanently memorialized on the Internet. In an interview with BBC Radio 1′s Newsbeat, he distanced himself from claims that the page was being used maliciously as a form of cyberbullying.

“We’ve blanked out a lot of the faces at the user’s request or we just totally remove the picture if there’s any bullying occurring,” he told BBC Radio 1.

In an interview with Betabeat conducted via Facebook chat, Mr. Brandwood further emphasized that the raunchy site isn’t being used as a bully pulpit for menacing behavior:

Well of course the critics are going to pull out the negatives, all I have to say to them is, is there actually any proven cases of bullying through Snapchat Leaked? No, and the reason for that is because Snapchat Leaked doesn’t agree with bullying, and will not tolerate it.

He said the site censors faces and is willing to delete submissions if asked. Mr. Brandwood told us he doesn’t know who controls the now-defunct Snapchat Leaked and maintained that @SnapchatLeaked is the “official” Twitter account. A search for “Snapchat Leaked” on Twitter reveals a plethora of knock-offs of his grand creation.

Snapchats Leaked isn’t disappearing anytime. Mr. Brandwood said the plan is to make it “big” and add more advertisiements, but the proceeds will be donated to charity.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com