Given the inherently furtive nature of sending pics of your bits to other people, the broad coverage of warring sext apps Snapchat and Poke has been exactly the sort of coincidence we’re prone to mistaking for irony. (Perhaps the most amusing stories have been the ones that try to find a sober business angle).
But if you’ve so far missed the boat on the sext throw-down, here’s the gist.
Snapchat and Poke allow users to send self-deleting photos to (presumably salivating) contacts. Both apps automatically delete images from the recipient’s phone after a predetermined viewing window, which the sender can set at between three and ten seconds. And in keeping with its on-the-sly purpose, Snapchat also blocks the screengrab function of user’s phone while active.
(Poke, meanwhile, alerts senders that their images have been grabbed - presumably to indicate that they should cut off an exchange with a freeze-framing skeezeball before things get any saucier).
If you’re a smartphone user that likes to take a walk on the wild side, the appeal is obvious. And you’ll be gratified - and maybe a little titillated - to learn that you’re not alone. At time of writing, Snapchat - the more established app - is sitting at 11th place on the Australian app store chart.
What’s got everyone from tech bloggers to mainstream journalists paying attention, though, is Poke - the rival app developed by Facebook to steal Snapchat’s users.
As Business Week notes, Facebook’s Snapchat alternative skirts somewhat closer to “clone” than “competitor,” and was openly developed by everyone’s favourite internet villain as a direct response to Snapchat’s popularity.
The meat of the story, however, is how badly Poke has bombed. After a brief period of interest upon launch, Poke has largely dropped off the radar among internet pervs, while the ensuing clone broo-hah has only served to expose Snapchat to more users. (The app has stayed remarkably steady as a top download).
There’s an obvious story in the success of Snapchat that the internet is, and has always been, largely concerned with raunch. (Though in truth, that’s less accurate than you might think - in 2010, a mere 4% of the top million websites were smut). But perhaps the more interesting insight to come out of the Snapchat v Poke dustup is one about reaping what you sow.
Facebook has always been somewhat loose with it’s attitude to privacy, and we can’t help but see a correlation between that position and the relative failure of Poke.
Contrasted to Snapchat’s assertion that its servers instantly delete sent images and video upon viewing, Poke holds onto all content for at least two days (up to ninety if it’s reported as abusive).
While the truth of the matter is that no sexting is inherently safe, knowing that facebook will hold onto our pics is hardly an incentive to get fresh.