Image: Maurizio Pesce/ Flickr
Snapchat’s progression from being a deliciously scandalous app made for sending nudes to cute dudes and ladies to a legitimate messaging platform has been fascinating to watch. Still, vestiges of its former seedy life remain in the form of a well-documented amateur porn subculture.
In light of this, it’s not surprising that when Snapchat announced its new in-app payment system, Snapcash, the internet’s first reaction was generally, to quote Reddit user Kaelteth, “...and the progression to a porn company is complete.”
Snapcash will allow users to send money to each other by linking a credit or debit card to their account with Square, a popular device-based commerce platform for businesses and individuals. By typing “$” and an amount into the app’s messaging field, you’ll be able to send money to a user you’re connected with.
That Snapchat is a popular destination for sex workers—like cam girls, for example—to advertise their services and sell nudes is somewhat of an open secret.
Message boards for sex workers are populated with threads about how much they charge e-Johns for access to their Snapchats, and a black market of sorts has even emerged on various festering internet voids where sad dudes share the account names of cam girls and porn stars on Snapchat.
It should be obvious that those links may be NSFW, depending on where you work, but hey, I’m not your boss, or a cop, or your mom.
In the wake of the most recent and much-publicized Snapchat leak, in which hackers uploaded at least 500 MB of photos onto the web, the popular impulse may be to be chiefly concerned with the Snapcash’s security. Hacking aside, Snapchat collects a host of data from users, including the identities of message senders and receivers, and the time and date of sent messages.
Snapchat also collects device information like hardware model, unique device identifiers like IMEI numbers, and more. Add your credit card information to that, and it’s enough to make any sex worker skittish.
Some, like blogger “Victoria Joy” on Tits and Sass, a site run by sex workers and dedicated to ruminations on sex work culture, were already turned off of Snapchat due to its poor security features. According to a post she published in June, she won’t be using it again:
Sex workers who use Snapchat for marketing or sales need to know that it is no more secure than the cam site on which they perform. They have to assess whether taking cam customers to another unsecured app is worth it. The difference between engaging with customers on a cam site versus Snapchat is that the cam site has security tools like user blocking and location blocking by IP address.
It remains to be seen how, exactly, Snapcash will play into the subculture of cam girls and amateur on-demand porn stars already on Snapchat, but it’s entirely plausible that it will, in one way or another. The nudes already there, after all, and Snapchat may have just inadvertently made them even easier to monetize.