Culture

The Alleged Snapchat Leak Looks Real, But It's Mostly Not Porn

Motherboard looked at some of the videos included in the alleged leak.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

One of the most anonymous photos we've seen so far, which we shared to show that yes, the alleged image leaks do contain Snapchat images. Image: From leak, edited by Motherboard for additional anonymity

News has been going around all day of a massive leak of private Snapchat videos and photos, most of which has, thus far, been unsubstantiated by anything other than 4Chan posts. Well, Motherboard has downloaded a portion of the alleged hack and it does appear that at least some snaps were hacked from somewhere, by someone.

At least part of the alleged hack was shared as a torrent file on various message boards claiming to have access to the entire set of files. Motherboard staff accessed the file in an attempt to verify its authenticity, and the videos it contains certainly appear to be from Snapchat, though we can't tell where, exactly, they came from originally. All of them are less than 10 seconds long, with some having Snapchat's distinctive text overlay or doodling.

(While we investigated the file in an attempt to establish its provenance, we certainly are not advocating that you check out any of the files for yourself, and would do so at your own risk. We've since deleted everything, and forwarded a link to the torrent file to an FBI contact because it does appear that there are at least several videos in there that show people who are most likely underage, and stealing these videos is not cool, no matter what the content is.)

Everything we've seen so far, however, suggests what we've known for a while now—people generally aren't using Snapchat to send each other nude photos anymore.

The vast majority of the files, wherever they came from, show students in class, dogs running around, and people watching TV. There's snaps of newborn babies, one of a girl chugging a pot of nacho cheese, lots of selfies, and, yes, there are some vaginas in there—but there's very little here that people who get off on this shit would want to see.

Everything we've seen so far, however, suggests what we've known for a while now—people generally aren't using Snapchat to send each other nude photos anymore.

We tried to trace some of the videos back to popular "leaked Snapchat" sites or sites where Snapchat videos and photos are posted voluntarily, and it does appear as though these ones are new. Some of the videos in this initial leak are in English, but the vast majority appear to be from Scandinavian countries.

If the videos we saw did indeed come from a hack, they likely came from a third-party web application application called 'Snapsaved,' which has been shut down for a while but allowed its users to open, view, and save Snapchat files on its website. According to an archived version of the website, Snapsaved kept a database of its users files online:

"Our server contacts Snapchat on your behalf, we then show you all your snaps so you can download them!," it said. "SnapSaved.com is a library [of] your snaps! All you have to do is login once you have an unread snap, and it will be saved for you!"

Some of the files have Snapchat's specific text overlay. Image: Leaked Snapchats

Other Snapchat-saving apps, such as SnapSave and SaveMySnaps (on its official description in the Google Play store) claim that they were not hacked and that they do not store Snapchat images on their servers. 

Last night, news of the hack spread across 4 Chan and a blogger showed some still images that were allegedly from the hack. We did not see any of those images in the torrent we reviewed.  A commenter on Hacker News said that he reverse-image searched some of those initially posted photos on 4 Chan and found that they had been floating around on the internet for several years, which was confirmed by security experts who Forbes' Kashmir Hill spoke with

Reddit, which was the most popular method of  spreading the iCloud celebrity hacks of last month, has banned two subreddits, one called r/snappening and one called r/thesnappening. A Motherboard request to Reddit for more information about both of those subreddits was not returned.

Snapchat itself said its own servers were not hacked and "were not the source of these leaks." The company didn't verify whether or not the initial set of leaked videos came from its service or not—and, indeed, hasn't confirmed whether the snaps are even real—but its statement lines up with the idea that these came from a hacked third party website:

"Snapchatters were allegedly 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," the company said in a statement.

People on 4Chan have suggested that they are reportedly working on a database of the images that can be searched by username. Some have suggested the database will be available sometime tonight, but we can't substantiate it.

According to some 4Chan posts, the total leak is 13GB and includes both images and videos; the torrent we saw was roughly 500 MB and included only mp4 files with filenames consisting of seemingly random strings of numbers.

So far, we haven't seen any concrete evidence that there is more to this leak than the initial torrent file. As we were saying: Don't download it. Even if you do, you're just going to see evidence of what we've already known for a long time—people like sending their friends mundane shit.