Yes and no. SnapChat automatically deletes most messages after they have been opened or expired.  However, it warns users that the recipient may take a screenshot or use some other screen capture technology (or simply take a photo of their screen with another camera).  Our long-time readers may recall that SnapChat entered into settlement agreements with both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Maryland Attorney General on the topic of whether messages disappear.

If SnapChat is able to detect that a screenshot was taken, SnapChat states that it will notify you. SnapChat warns that users should not send messages that you wouldn’t want the recipient to save or share.

Certain other services require SnapChat to retain content for longer periods of time and follow different deletion protocols. For example, your Story content, Live, Local and other crowd-sourced services, which content may be retained indefinitely.

SnapChat’s final words on deletion:

  • There is no guarantee that messages will be deleted within a specific timeframe
  • Data may remain in backup for a limited period of time
  • Law enforcement may require suspension of ordinary server-deletion practices for specific information
  • There may be ways to access messages while in temporary storage on recipient’s device or forensically after deletion

Remember the SnapChat terms of service (which, of course, are subject to interpretation), seek to address, several issues, stating that you:

  • must be at least 13 years old
  • retain all ownership rights in your content. However, you grant SnapChat a worldwide, royalty-free, sub-licensable, and transferable licence to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content. This is limited to the purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting and improving SnapChat’s services and researching and developing new ones.
  • grant wider licence rights for certain services such as Live, Local and crowd-sourced services and include a perpetual licence to publicly display content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods. You also grant SnapChat and its business partners the right to use your name, likeness, and voice.
  • you are responsible for any content shared or claims arising from your content. SnapChat may review, screen and delete content at any time and for any reason.
  • you indemnify SnapChat against claims as a result of your use of SnapChat. SnapChat is not liable to you for anything. But in the event that they are, liability is limited to USD100 (if applicable in your jurisdiction).
  • waive any right to participate in a class-action lawsuit against SnapChat.
  • may file a notice of infringement of copyright of your own material at SnapChat, Inc., Attn: Copyright Agent, 63 Market Street, Venice, CA, 90291 or email at SnapChat may terminate accounts of repeat copyright infringers.
  • can delete your SnapChat account here.

(Terms as at March 29, 2016)