Snapchat was originally created to provide a temporary chat experience. Pictures shared with friends on Snapchat disappeared ten seconds after being viewed, while more complicated “Stories” persisted for 24 hours before disappearing. Due to this perceived privacy protection, Snapchat became known as a place for people to share their most intimate photographs.
Due to such widespread use of the service, and even more so because many of the site’s users are teenagers, concerns grew about the possibility that unscrupulous users of the site could use screen capture or screen recording technology to make permanent copies of the images that were supposed to be transient. Snapchat began creating a feature that would alert users if someone took a screenshot of their snapshots.
Since then, various techniques and methods have been discovered to take stealth screenshots. Some of which are blocked by Snapchat, while others are impossible to detect. So you can tell if someone takes a screenshot of your Snapchat post or story, but it’s only half the time.
While there have been variations in when and how Snapchat detects and records screenshots, this article explains the current status of screenshot and screen recording notifications on Snapchat, as of July 2021.
iPhones and screen recording on Snapchat
If you have the Snapchat app open on your iPhone, you’re viewing a snap or story, and you take a screenshot by pressing the Home button and the Power button at the same time, Snapchat will record your screenshot and then do two things: one, it will put a mention in your chat log or feed that you took the screenshot, and two, it will send an alert to the person you are chatting with to let them know what happened.
This alert will appear as a pop-up window on the other person’s Snapchat, and in case you get lost in the flood of notifications, Snapchat will also place a notification in the chat log or feed.
Can you screen capture a Snapchat story without them knowing?
Whether you use Android or iOS, the chances of recording a Snapchat story without the other person knowing is about 50 percent. Since there are tons of apps available and new ones popping up on the left and right, it can be difficult to tell if Snapchat detects them and sends notifications to the other party.
Snapchat screen recording on iOS
The development of Apple’s iOS 11 version in September 2017 created a huge PR problem for Snapchat because iOS 11 implemented a new feature for iPhones: screen recording. With screen recording, iPhone users can press a button and automatically record everything that happened on their phone screen. While screen recordings on iOS were convenient, Snapchat was unable to detect them. As of iOS Snapchat version 10.17.5, the recordings were officially discoverable.
There are a number of screen recording programs, some of which work on versions of iOS prior to iOS 11, and some of which involve using an iPad or desktop computer to record an iPhone that is connected to via a data cable.
Whether these methods are detected by Snapchat is an open question; since most of these applications are paid programs.
Snapchat screen recording on Android
The world of Android smartphones is much more open than Apple’s relatively controlled sandbox. Not only are there various developers struggling to have the following screen recording on Android because it is easier to list it on the Play Store, but you also have various versions of the operating system that work in slightly different ways.
Virtually any software developer can be configured to release new versions of applications on Android, and many have done so; On top of that, the phone makers themselves are known for creating their own semi-proprietary apps that could easily hide from Snapchat detection. Of course, Snapchat works hard to stay up-to-date on the latest privacy breakers, but it’s still near impossible.
The problem with privacy on Snapchat is the nature of Android’s own architecture; It is a very open platform, but it also provides individual applications with very good security, which makes it impossible for one application to “spy” on another without cooperation between the developers.
Common ways other people log or take screenshots of your Snapchat stories and posts
Even if the world of Android became much more like the neat and orderly community that Apple tyrannizes, Snapchat would not be able to protect its users from screenshots and screen recordings, because there are methods for taking screenshots that completely bypass the software of the device in question.
On iPhones, there are techniques for using QuickTime on a desktop computer to capture the video screen of a connected iPhone. On Windows machines, you can set up an Android emulator like BlueStacks or Nox and install Snapchat on the emulator, then use built-in Windows screenshots and screen recording programs to archive whatever you want to capture. It’s even possible to set up another device and use its built-in camera to record what’s shown on your phone’s screen, bypassing all of Snapchat’s security features entirely. Or, if you want to get old-fashioned, you can just take a picture of your phone’s screen with another camera.
Snapchat, while not announcing these facts to its user base, has quietly stopped claiming that it can prevent people from taking screenshots without notifying its users. The promise of a completely temporary photo and video sharing experience, while appealing in its early days, has proven to be technologically impossible to deliver in today’s world.
Smartphone operating systems are simply too good at providing applications with the necessary functionality, and smartphones themselves are simply too easy to network and interact with other machines. Neither Snapchat nor any other application developer can hope to exert significant control over a computing environment that is expandable and flexible.
Protecting your privacy on Snapchat
With all the current technological advancements and limited user control, what can you do to protect your privacy on Snapchat?
Moving forward, it’s important to limit access to your Snapchat feed to people you know and trust. This is a strange concept to many people today who have grown up with the culture of “influencers” and the assumption that more followers and more viewers are always better. However, when it comes to your most private material, that is not true. If you don’t mind that that kind of material is public, then that’s fine, that’s your choice. If you want to restrict it, you need to limit your Snapchat actions and control who can see them. Here are some steps you can take to protect your privacy on Snapchat.
- Set your account privacy option a Just friends. This means that only your mutually declared friends can see your posts.
- Disable Quick Add. The Quick Add feature is ideal for people trying to create as large an indiscriminate following as possible. In Settings, look for See me on Quick Add, touch it and toggle settings.
- Reject random requests. When you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know, turn it down.
- Do not publish your username or Snapcode.
- If you have snapshots saved on your Memories, move them to the My Eyes Only section. Tap the check mark in the upper right corner of the Memories section, select the images you want to protect, and tap the lock icon at the bottom of the app.
Now for those who want a public following on Snapchat, be careful what you post! That is all that can be said.
One thing to keep in mind is that once someone has access to your snapshots or stories, you should assume that they have permanent access to them. That is, once they’ve gotten permission to view your stuff, it could easily be saved to your local hard drive or in the cloud, or worse yet, posted to some nasty corner of the Dark Web. So if you have “that kind” of material in your Snapchat past, you should probably consider that your privacy has already been violated.
Since its inception, Snapchat has grown into one of the largest social media platforms in the world, largely due to the ephemeral nature of Snapchat messages. Being able to send and receive temporary images and videos can be a lot of fun, but it can seem like an invasion of privacy when people record their posts or stories on screen.
Although Snapchat notifies you when someone records one of your Snaps on the screen, it is important to note that there are third-party applications that can prevent this. So, as you should when using any social media platform, be aware of the content you post on Snapchat. Once it is there, it is difficult to control what happens to it.
You can always create a private story on Snapchat, but again, keep in mind that someone may share it with someone else you don’t know!