Snapchat released an update Tuesday that makes it more competitive with chat apps from Facebook and Google by providing for audio-clip sharing, video calling and additional emojis.
But lost in users' excitement for the new features was another significant launch, one that doesn't actually reside in the Venice company's app.
Snapchat's website now has a "Download My Data" tool, which the company says gives users a digital folder containing "most" of the information it stores about them. Google and Facebook already have similar account-data tools.
The data dump from Snapchat shows users' recent logins, their history of contacting customer support, the number of messages they've recently sent and received and purchases they've made on the app, including location-based digital stickers or replays of ephemeral messages.
Users can get a list of all the messages they've submitted to the company for inclusion into publicly accessible Live and Local Stories. The list shows whether the photos and video submissions were actually picked up by Snapchat curators. Also accessible to users are the media files themselves from recent submissions, including the geofilter digital sticker, image and any text overlay -- all of those are stored "indefinitely," according to Snapchat.
The simple files aren't elegantly presented, but suggest that Snapchat could eventually give users a more robust view of their activity. And it's more data than Snapchat shows users on the app itself.
For example, though Snapchat's search feature is limited to looking up usernames, the new policy says Snapchat stores search queries and may provide search results from outside entities. As far as advertising, the company not only has the leeway to use new tracking methods but also makes more clear that ads users see may be customized for them.