Around 200,000 private photos sent using the photo messaging app Snapchat werereportedly stolen and leaked on Thursday.
People on the Internet message board 4chan, which was blamed in part for the recent hack of celebrity nudes as well, began passing around the Snapchat photos on Thursday night, according to Business Insider.
It’s likely that many of the photos compromised belonged to underaged users, since 50 percent of Snapchat’s users are between the ages of 13 and 17. If the photos are deemed pornographic — Snapchat users have a history of sending racy photos — possession and distribution of them could lead to prison time.
Snapchat itself was not compromised in the hack, a spokeswoman for the company told The Huffington Post. Instead, hackers obtained the photos through one of many third-party Snapchat apps, which are often used to covertly save Snapchats without letting the sender know. There are whispers that a third-party app called Snapsavewas the app that was hacked, but that is only a rumor for now.
In an emailed statement a Snapchat spokeswoman explained that the company explicitly tells users to avoid such third-party apps for just this reason.
Snapchat notifies a sender if the recipient screenshots a photo. But if the recipient of a photos uses a third-party app, he or she can save the photo without the sender’s knowledge. As such, Snapchat actively looks for and reports third-party apps that bypass Snapchat’s automatic photo destruction, the spokeswoman said.