The Gigantic Snapchat-4Chan Photo Leak Means Celebrities Aren't The Only Victims Now

In the aftermath of the much-discussed, massive hack of celebrity nude photos that occurred in September, there's been a lot of conversation and ink spilled about how it happened, and we should view it — Jennifer Lawrence considered it a sex crime, and she's right. Now, the violation may have gone beyond just celebrities: Over 200,000 Snapchats were reportedly leaked on 4chan, a privacy breach which the company has been forced to respond to.

The stakes of this situation are high. Some of the hacked photos involved underage nudity, which is little surprise — as The Huffington Post's Alexis Kleinman notes, Snapchat's user base is extremely young, with more or less half of its users between the ages of 13 and 17.

The ostensible benefit of using Snapchat is that it enables you to send something brief which will disappear into the ether afterwards, safely deleted and leaving no trail. In other words, it's perfect for young people who don't want to be caught, and who may now have joined the countless victims of disgusting internet hackers and harassers. According to Business Insider's James Cook, the leak went down Thursday night, but had been in the works for years. Yes, years.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Snapchat sent a statement along to Mashable, which has drawn a fair amount of criticism. That's understandable, considering they immediately shifted the blame onto the victimized users themselves.

We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.

In other words: not our fault, and in fact, it's those third-party apps, which we hate, that are to blame. That's not to suggest their explanation isn't true — quite to the contrary, it makes perfect sense, and could well be exactly what happened. But there's no tech company on Earth that wants even the faintest implication that they can't be trusted with personal data right now, as Apple's reaction to the celebrity photo scandal laid bare.

As far as Snapchat is concerned, however, there have been people warning about this sort of thing for years, as Wired details — it spoke to security research Adam Caudill, who said that these third-party apps are relatively simple to make.

Your average developer can build something in a day’s time that interacts with Snapchat’s API and saves everything that comes through it. Quite honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.

It basically goes without saying, given the fact that these images are a) not anyone's business and b) likely to contain child pornography, but I'd like to plead with anyone reading this not to even consider searching for any of them. I was personally surprised how many people admitted to me that they viewed the photos in last month's celebrity hack, and it was both disheartening and disillusioning.

Images: Getty Images