If you're not using Snapchat, someone you know is. Odds are, if you have kids or grandchildren in their teens or 20s, they're using Snapchat.
It's a fun social media platform where they post messages to friends. Unlike Facebook posts, the twist is that Snapchat posts disappear.
"By default, Snaps disappear from the screen once they are viewed," according to Snapchat. Snaps are visible for "up to 10 seconds."
That promise has led to a lot of uninhibited chatting on Snapchat. Often, people share information and photos that they normally wouldn't. However, not all Snapchat posts disappear.
That's according to Snapchat. Snaps disappear, "unless your friend decides to keep it, such as with a screenshot or separate camera." Plus, if you want your Snaps to remain visible for more than 10 seconds, there are options to do that.
So, you need to protect yourself and your family if they're using Snapchat. Here are a few tips to keep all of you safe when chatting on Snapchat.
1. Mange your privacy settings
Snapchat is best known for its disappearing posts. However, the social media site with 100 million daily does let people keep your posts.
"Make sure to check your settings and make sure you're only sharing the things you post on 'My Story' with your friends, as opposed to the whole world," experts advise.
No matter what you're doing online, it's incredibly important to hide your activity behind a password. If you don't, hackers and cybercriminals can steal your identity, your financial records and more.
However, it's not effective to simply have an easy-to-remember password. You have to ensure that it's a complex password, and that you often change it.
3. Don't rack up Snapchat friends
One of the funnest things about Snapchat and other social sites for young adults is becoming friends with a lot of people. You may have heard your teenager, for instance, say something like, "I have 1,000 Snapchat" friends.
Part of the reason for this is that it's so easy to invite people on social media to be your friend, and to accept friend invitations. But, on a site like Snapchat, where you may be sharing private information, you need to be really careful who those friends are.
"It could be a spambot, or an overly curious stranger who has no reason to learn about your life via Snapchat," security experts warn. "It's best to ignore these requests."
4. Be careful about Snapchat Live
You may have heard about curated online events. When you share information about a specific event, and other people share stories about that same even, social media sites sometimes collect those into curated stories.
On Snapchat, those curated events are called Snapchat Live Stories. "The end result is a Story told from a community perspective with lots of different points of view," writes Snapchat, which gives users the option to contribute to Live Stories.
But, be careful. Live Stories aren't temporary messages that disappear after a few seconds. In fact, any Snapchat user in the world who wants to read your post, can.
Bonus: Don't use third-party apps
Whenever you're chatting on social media sites, and sharing your photos, you should check the social media site's security policies. But, beyond that, resist the urge to download third-party apps to use on those social media sites. The security on third-party apps can be lax.
"These are often less secure, something many found out the hard way in a 2014 photo leak dubbed The Snappening. Over 90,000 Snapchat photos were leaked that had been uploaded to a third-party website."