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Snap Employees Used Internal Tools to Spy on Snapchat Users

Snap Employees Used Internal Tools to Spy on Snapchat Users

A report on Thursday claims numerous Snap employees abused internal data management tools to snoop on Snapchat users. The employees potentially had access to location and contact information, and even saved Snaps.

Motherboard reports that past and current employees, as well as internal Snap email correspondence indicates the social media firm fielded numerous tools that allowed access to sensitive user data and profile information.

One of the internal tools that can access user data is called SnapLion, according to multiple sources and the emails. The tool was originally used to gather information on users in response to valid law enforcement requests, such as a court order or subpoena, two former employees said. Both of the sources said SnapLion is a play on words with the common acronym for law enforcement officer LEO, with one of them adding it is a reference to the cartoon character Leo the Lion. Snap’s “Spam and Abuse” team has access, according to one of the former employees, and a current employee suggested the tool is used to combat bullying or harassment on the platform by other users. An internal Snap email obtained by Motherboard says a department called “Customer Ops” has access to SnapLion. Security staff also have access, according to the current employee. The existence of this tool has not been previously reported.

Although Snap prohibits viewing of user profiles, several employees wrongly leveraged data access tools to spy on users, sources said. The illicit access mentioned in the article is said to have taken place several years ago and occurred “a few times” by multiple people.

“Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Motherboard. “Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination.”

(Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)