Around 200,000 photographs and videos privately shared by Snapchat users have been leaked online in an event dubbed “The Snappening”.

It is currently unclear when the files were stolen, with a number of the images traced back to website called SnapchatLeaked, which has been online for a number of months.

Snapchat has confirmed that it was not the source of the leak and its servers had not been compromised. In a statement, Snapchat blamed the leak on unauthorised apps or websites using the service’s API:

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks.

“Snapchatters were 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. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.”

While Snapchat’s servers may not have been breached, many commentators have blamed Snapchat for offering an API with several serious security concerns, with issues first discovered in 2012.

The source of this leak appears to be the website Snapsaved.com, which was utilised by some people to save snaps sent from other Snapchat users. The administrators of the website admitted that it was hacked, but dispute the volume of information stolen, saying:

“As far as we can tell, the breach has effected 500MB of images, and 0 personal information”

While many of the photos leaked will be innocent photos of videos, much of the content shared across Snapchat is of an adult nature. As many of the service’s users are under the age of 18, a proportion of the hacked images and videos are of children in various states of undress, content which is illegal and considered child pornography in many countries around the world.

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