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Snapchat faces 20 years of privacy oversight after settlement with federal officials

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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Messaging startup Snapchat has settled charges with U.S. regulators accusing it of deceiving consumers by promising that photos sent on its service disappeared forever after a certain period of time.

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Under the terms of the settlement, Snapchat’s privacy practices will be monitored by an independent professional for the next 20 years.

“If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises,” Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.

According to the FTC, photos sent on Snapchat could, in fact, be saved by recipients using several methods.

The FTC also said Snapchat collected certain personal information about its users without their consent and failed to take proper security measures, resulting in a breach in which hackers compiled a database of 4.6 million Snapchat user names and phone numbers.

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In a post on its official blog on Thursday, Snapchat acknowledged that it had made mistakes, which it attributed to being a young company focused on developing its product.

“While we were focused on building, some things didn’t get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community,” the company said.

Snapchat is among a new crop of popular mobile apps that competes with established Internet services such as Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc. According to media reports last year, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook.

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The settlement with the FTC is subject to a 30-day public comment period, after which the commission will decided whether to make the consent decree final.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)

[Image: A portrait of the Snapchat logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. By Eric Thayer for Reuters.]

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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The Republican chair of a Tennessee legislative committee is under fire for cutting off the microphone while a woman of color was speaking -- but allowing white men to spew "lunacy."

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The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

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