Snapchat use is exploding, especially among female millennials and teenage girls. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat communication is one of its biggest draws. Young people that have grown up with social networking are becoming more aware of the footprint left by other networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. So the fact that Snapchats disappear after a certain amount of time is part of its appeal.
Today, Snapchat is actually three networking streams in one product: snaps, chats and stories.
Snaps are pictures or videos sent directly to a friend or a group of friends. When the recipient opens the snap, it is only visible for ten-seconds (depending on your settings) and then it is no longer viewable in the Snapchat app. Yes, your friends can take a screenshot of the image as they are viewing it. And, yes, some third-party apps can grab the images. So it is not secure by any means, but good enough for selfies, even on bad-hair days.
Chats are a conversation stream between specific people that includes text, images, and video Unless you otherwise flag a chat to keep it longer, chats disappears after 24-hours.
Stories are short videos created by stringing multiple snaps together (like a slideshow) and are visible to all your friends. You can not send a story to a particular friend. Each snap in your story is available for 24-hours, and you can add snaps to the end of your story at anytime. For example, if you created a story of all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week (and you ate on a strict schedule) your story would always display your last three meals. Since they were released in October, 2013, stories have become extremely popular. Their use now outpaces snaps.
For more on how to use each of these Snapchat streams, here’s Snapchat’s How To.