Snapchat is the latest social media platform to adjust privacy settings for users with a recently implemented toggle switch in its privacy controls that allows users to “limit the use of personal information” based on CPRA requirements. So, what’s the big deal?
The implementation of this toggle is significant for two reasons:
Other social media companies have purposely buried privacy options to make it difficult for users to find. Social media platforms are notorious for difficult to find the privacy settings, changing the location of the settings, and providing minimum defaults that aren’t the highest levels for users.
The toggle isn’t showing for just California users. Social media companies are known for gathering data on users, not being transparent about what they collect, and making it difficult to alter privacy settings. With this update, Snapchat has rolled out the limitation of use of personal information to users beyond the state of California. Not only is the option there for users outside of CA, but it’s also relatively easy to find.
It is not entirely clear what privacy effect Snap’s toggle feature would have or whether it is simply paying lip service to the CCPA’s new requirements. “There are large exceptions to the right to limit the use of sensitive personal information, and the California Privacy Protection Agency’s proposed regulations on this topic are not yet finalized,” says Michael Hellbusch, CIPP/US, CIPM, a partner at the California law firm Rutan & Tucker. “While the CPRA’s amendments to the CCPA added a right for Californians to limit the use and disclosure of sensitive personal information, that right is limited in its scope. For example, a business would not be required to limit the use of geolocation its use is necessary to provide the service to the consumer. “We cannot be sure at this point the extent to which Snapchat’s honoring requests to limit the use of sensitive personal information by its users will impact the user’s experience or overall privacy,” Hellbusch adds.
Snapchat’s Privacy History
Snapchat privacy has been a concern since the app hit the market. Touting over 3.5 million daily active users, Snapchat collects a myriad of data including, but not limited to, image metadata, geolocation, and device information. Until now, Snapchat has followed other social media platforms in making privacy disclosures vague and hard to understand, prompting users to agree with the policies without truly understanding the content.
A suit was brought against Snapchat in August for violating Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting users’ biometric information without consent. A settlement hearing was scheduled for last month but has been postponed. Facebook set a precedent with almost $400 paid to Illinois users for a similar suit. According to NBC Chicago, “1.4 million people in Illinois stand to receive a check in the mail from Facebook as part of a seven-year, $650 million Class Action Lawsuit against the company” (2022).
The Future of Privacy on Social Media
We don’t believe the implementation of Snapchat’s privacy toggle to alter the privacy landscape for social media. Ultimately, social media platforms provide the largest amount of data for market research as most people use at least one social media platform. If the American Data Privacy and Protection Act comes to fruition it could spur changes as “surveillance capitalism” and “commercial surveillance” become hot topics. The ADPPA outlines the allowance of data collection based on what is “strictly necessary” and reigns in marketing based on sensitive information.
NBC Chicago. (2022, June 1). How to find out if you’re part of the $650 million Illinois Facebook settlement. NBC Chicago. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/are-you-part-of-the-650-million-class-action-illinois-facebook-settlement-heres-how-to-check/2847134/