KCBD INVESTIGATES: Untraceable smartphone apps - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

KCBD INVESTIGATES: Untraceable smartphone apps

Snapchat is a popular application that is almost impossible for parents to monitor. Snapchat is a popular application that is almost impossible for parents to monitor.

There's an app for everything, and anyone can get them, including your children.

Parents already know to monitor how their children use Twitter and Facebook, but there are other apps out there, newer ones, that no one over 30 has ever heard of. They can be used as innocent text and photo sharing services, or they can be used for sexting and the sharing of provocative photos, in a way that is almost impossible for parents to detect.

"I just don't want them to get into anything that they're not supposed to be doing," said Sharon Pina, a concerned parent of four. "They're at the park or whatever, and you see someone in the background that she's not supposed to be hanging out with."

Pina tries to stay on top of what her kids are doing online and away from home.

"I've made them erase some adults that are on there (Facebook) that there was no reason for them to be on there," Pina said.

If you're not as tech-savvy as Pina, there are companies that can help monitor your child's iPhone activity.

"It starts to create charts and graphs showing who their kids are talking to what are they talking about - how are they using these technologies," said Tim Woda, co-founder of uknow.com.

But today there are loopholes that even tech-savvy parents aren't aware of...

Created in 2012, Snapchat is a phone application that security sites are unable to monitor.

"Snapchat does not ban a particular type of imagery, so that wouldn't work," said Mitch Butler, EyeGuardian founder, "whereas Facebook wants to provide a clean user experience."

These security sites are able to see what pictures your child takes through the phone's camera.

But since Snapchat pictures are taken through the application itself, they can't be traced by security software.

On Snapchat, all messages are temporary. Photos erase themselves 3 to 10 seconds after they are viewed.

A parent can't go into the app and view a child's history. As far as the user can tell, the photos are gone.

But do the photos actually disappear after they're erased from the application?

KCBD NewsChannel 11 tried contacting Snapchat representatives to get some answers, but our phone calls and emails were not returned.

According to their terms of service agreement, it's possible these so-called temporary photos can last forever.

Snapchat's privacy policy states, "although we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is received, we cannot guarantee that the message contents will be deleted in every case. Messages therefore are sent at the risk of the user."

Parents should also watch out for a video-sharing application called Vine.

"It's more popular than Instagram and it does the same things as Snapchat, but it does it for video, so you can imagine that it has all the same implications," Woda said.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 reached out to Vine as well, but did not receive a response.

Parents are advised to keep a close eye on which phone applications their children download. Once they're on the phone, certain applications are impossible to monitor.

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