Snapchat is a chat app and social network that’s super popular with millennials and teens. It’s main feature is that every “Snap” (aka photo or video) is automatically deleted after a certain amount of time.

These Snaps may be deleted from your phone, but are they also deleted from Snapchat’s servers? This is the question on a lot of peoples’ minds. The Federal Trade Commission called Snapchat out in 2013 for “misrepresenting” how private Snaps actually were, so let’s look at what the situation is now.

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The simple answer is no: Snapchat doesn’t save your Snaps forever.

The more nuanced answer is that Snapchat doesn’t deliberately store Snaps for longer than they need to run the service, but that does mean they could sit on their server for up to 30 days. From the Snapchat privacy policy:

Snapchat lets you capture what it’s like to live in the moment. On our end, that means that we automatically delete the content of your Snaps (the photo and video messages that you send your friends) from our servers after we detect that a Snap has been opened by all recipients or has expired.

Your Snaps remain on their servers until all recipients have opened them. If one recipient doesn’t open the Snap for a week, the Snap will stay on their servers for that week. If a Snap isn’t opened for 30 days, it expires and is deleted.

The safest thing to do is to assume that anything you send on Snapchat is on their servers for a month. All it takes is for one of your friends to lose their phone and not receive your Snap.

One other thing to note is that you can choose to save your Snaps to Snapchat’s servers with Snapchat Memories. If you save a Snap to your Memories, it will be kept on their servers until you delete it.

When it comes to Snaps sticking around longer than you want, it isn’t Snapchat you have to worry about, but the people you send them to. With some third-party apps, another device, or simply just taking a screenshot, someone else can save your Snap indefinitely. Even if you get a notification telling you it’s been saved, there’s not a lot you can do about it. We’d be more worried about that than what Snapchat is doing.

Profile Photo for Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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