When we last talked about about Snap back in March, it was rumored that the company would be launching a gaming platform in April. However, a new report of a much more negative nature is making the rounds that claims Snap employees have been using an internal tool to spy on users. The tool in question is called SnapLion, and was initially designed to gather information on users in response to a valid law enforcement request.
Word of the alleged abuse of the SnapLion tool came from a pair of former employees, a current employee, and internal company emails according to the Motherboard report. SnapLion is described as "the keys to the kingdom" and allows Snap employees to have access to user location information, saved Snaps, phone numbers, and email addresses of the users. Users within the company who have access to SnapLion incudes the Spam and Abuse team, a Customer Ops team, and security staff.
SnapLion reportedly has legitimate uses inside the company, but it has been used for illegitimate gains as well by multiple individuals according to the report. It's unclear what the alleged abuses using the SnapLion software entailed, and specifics on how the SnapLion software works are also unknown. A Snap spokesman has said that privacy is "paramount" and that very little user data is kept.
Snap also claims that it has robust policies in place to protect user data and to limit the number of employees who have access to the data. The former employees say that years back, SnapLion lacked robust tools to protect data and track what employees were doing with the tool. It's unclear if abuse of SnapLion is still taking place and to what extent past abuse might have occurred.
Snap says that unauthorized access of user data by employees of any kind is a clear violation of policies and will result in immediate termination. It's worth noting that while much of the data on Snapchat disappears after a short period, certain information is retained such as phone numbers, location data, message data, and content like Memories.