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Staying safe while using Snapchat

Snapchat is a fun way to keep in touch with friends, but there are some safety features to know about that can help you have a better experience

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Snapchat is an app which allows you to share pictures, messages and videos with friends that disappear after a period of between 1 and 10 seconds when sent to friends, or up to 24 hours on your snap story. Snapchat also allows you to live video stream and add your pictures/videos with event and locations stories. 

Deciding who can contact you on Snapchat

By default, only friends, or people you've added, can contact you on Snapchat. 

In your Privacy settings, you can decide who can contact you. This includes:

  • Who can contact you
  • Who can send you notifications
  • Who can view your story
  • Who can see your location
  • Who can see you in Quick-Add

You can choose between

  • My Friends
  • Everyone

If you choose 'My Friends', you won't be able to see Snaps sent to you be people you aren't friends with. Instead, you will receive a notification saying they added you as a friend. If you add them back, you will be able to view their snap.

If you are in a group, anyone will be able to message you within that group chat, even if they are not on your friends list.

Remember, if you choose 'Everyone', this means anyone on Snapchat can view your content, even if they haven't added you.

Learn more about privacy settings on Snapchat.

Removing and blocking friends

If someone makes you uncomfortable or you want to stop being in contact with someone for any reason, you can remove them as a friend or block them.

To do this, find their name in your 'My Friends' list in the app and tap and hold their name.

At this point you can choose to either remove them as a friend or else to block them completely.

You can also access a list of all the people you have blocked. To do this go into the general settings of the app, scroll to the bottom and select blocked. You can see the users you have blocked here, and you can unblock them if you want to.

Reporting something on Snapchat

If you see something inappropriate, upsetting, or something that makes you uncomfortable, you can report it to Snapchat to be reviewed. To do this, press and hold the snap and press the white flag button to report it. Otherwise, you can contact them on the web.


Although Snapchat messages are designed to disappear in 10 seconds or less, there is no guarantee that the person on the other end won’t screenshot the or take a photo of your Snap.

Usually, Snapchat will let you know if someone has screenshot your Snap, but there are some apps that people can use to stop this from working. This means someone could take a screenshot without you ever knowing.

Be careful about what you share on Snapchat, and remember that the things you share will not necessarily disappear forever if someone screenshots it.


Some people might decide to use Snapchat as a way to send sexts or nudes to other users. There are some things to consider before sending sexts. 

  • Do you feel confident and secure in sending a sext?
  • How would you feel if a naked image of you were to appear on social media?
  • Do you trust the person you're sexting?
  • Will this person be comfortable with receiving a sext?

Read more about sexting and what to consider before doing it.

Remember, if you are under 18, a sexual image of you will be considered child exploitation material. This means that you and the person you send it too could be in some very serious trouble.

Having a sexual picture or video of someone under 18 years of age, and sending that picture to other people, is illegal and can lead to criminal prosecution. Penalties can include jail time, a fine, and being added to the sex offenders register for at least two and a half years.


If you receive a hurtful message or you think someone is bullying you, here are some things you can do:

  • Avoid responding to the message
  • Keep the message by taking a screenshot
  • Block the sender or change your privacy settings to prevent future contact
  • Tell someone you trust about what's going on

Find out more about what to do if you are being bullied online.

Find out more about staying safe on Snapchat on the Snapchat Safety Centre.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published July 16th2013
Last updated May 23rd2018
Tags snapchat cyber bullying online safety selfie
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