Jul 8, 2019 - Science

GOP lawmaker: Snapchat videos "a child predator’s dream"

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks at a podium on June 27

Marsha Blackburn. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is pushing Snap to "take action to prevent more children from being exposed to sexual predators and explicit adult content while using Snapchat" in a letter seen by Axios and due to be sent to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel Monday.

Why it matters: Blackburn's complaint suggests that message services that offer users more privacy and make messages more fleeting — as Snap does now, and Facebook is promising — will not be immune to policymakers' scrutiny and regulatory efforts.


  • Blackburn's letter says that the messaging service's "disappearing videos are a child predator’s dream," citing cases in which predators allegedly used the application.
  • The letter also raises issues with Snap's map feature, which shows the locations of some users.
  • The lawmaker, who is one of several conservative critics of major tech companies, says in the letter than she is "concerned that Snapchat’s age ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store fail to adequately warn parents and unsuspecting minors of the material they will encounter."

The big picture: Children's online privacy is one area of tech policy that members of both parties frequently agree on.

What they're saying: "Nothing is more important to us than the trust and safety of our community, and we take a zero tolerance approach around these issues," said a Snap spokesperson in a statement. "We’ve designed Snapchat with no browsable public profiles, and by default you can’t receive a message or share location with someone you haven't added as a friend on the app. We work hard to detect, prevent and stop any abuse on our platform, and continue to work proactively with governments, law enforcement and best in class safety organizations to ensure that Snapchat continues to be a positive and safe environment."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Snap.

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