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What do parents need to know about Snapchat?

In what the media are tentatively calling "The Snappening," hackers have stolen and leaked about 100,000 personal photos sent over the popular app Snapchat.

What separates this leak from the leak of celebrity nude photos is, as the U.K. Telegraph's Radhika Sanghani put it, "now, it seems, anyone can be a victim."

The victims potentially include 32 percent of U.S. teens who use the app on their phones — a big chunk of Snapchat's 100 million active monthly users.

Here are some important things parents need to know to better protect their kids who use Snapchat:

1. There's nothing private about it.

While it's more private than, say, Facebook, in reality Snapchat isn't any more private than any other social network. Like all social media, despite its premise of being "safe" with its disappearing pictures, Snapchat is still built on one philosophy: sharing.

"It's meant to be maximally easy to use, and to promote sharing. That's the opposite of what true private communication is about," Slate's Lily Hay Newman wrote.

2. Nothing online ever "disappears." Ever.

While Snapchat doesn't save received messages, a lot can happen in those 10 seconds before a Snapchat message "disappears." Aside from the obvious possibility of iPhone and Android users being able to take a quick screen shot of a message, third-party apps such as Snap Save can save messages received over Snapchat — without the sender's knowledge.

3. Kid don't fully get "privacy."

As pediatrician Claire McCarthy learned with her own daughter, kids often don't understand that nothing online is private. McCarthy's daughter asked her mother not to read her blog, arguing that the blog was private "because I'm asking."

While plenty of kids understand that what's on the Internet ceases to be private, apps like Snapchat cloud the issue, McCarthy says.

"(Snapchat) creates the illusion that something can disappear from social media — and that is really dangerous," McCarthy wrote. "Apps like Snapchat make it … seem like it's possible that social media could actually be ephemeral or private."

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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