Snapchat and its clone Facebook Poke are apps that let users send temporary messages in the form of photos and videos, which get deleted seconds after they get viewed. The idea of spontaneous, temporary, visual messages appealed to a lot of smartphone owners, who collectively put the apps on the top charts of the App Store.
However, the promise of messages being deleted right after they’re viewed might not be entirely accurate, after a bug in both the apps was discovered that could let the message receiver save sent videos permanently.
The trick to save videos permanently was found by a Reddit user, who noticed that both the apps locally store received videos. In a self-post at r/iPhone, the Reddit user writes:
- Download iFunBox http://www.i-funbox.com/ to your computer. It allows you to download files from your applications to your computer. It’s free.
- Connect your phone. Find the SnapChat folder and then find the “tmp” folder. Nothing will be in it.
- On your phone, open the Snapchat application and go to the screen where it shows you that you have an awaiting Snapchat to open BUT DO NOT OPEN.
- The file will now pop up in the tmp folder on your computer.
- Hit “Copy to Mac” or “Copy to PC” and it is now yours forever.
Even Facebook’s Poke is vulnerable to this trick, with videos sent through this app being stored in the “library/caches/fbstore/mediacard” folder. Images sent through both these apps cannot be accessed in a similar way, but someone can always take a screenshot, in which case the sender gets notified.
Facebook has issued a statement to BuzzFeed saying that they have a fix in the works to patch this bug, while Snapchat’s founder didn’t indicate anything specific about a bug fix. Both the companies chose to reiterate that the messaging system used in both the apps isn’t truly secure and is always susceptible to simple hacks like using an external camera to take shots of the message.