You know you’ve made it when people are making fun of you. And if you make it to one of the grand jesters of social satire, that’s even better. The founders of Snapchat appeared on The Colbert Report this week, and Stephen, as per usual, was in fine form.
“I am down with all the social networking buzzword.biz,” Colbert said at the beginning of the interview with Snapchat creators Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy about their immensely popular photo-messaging app.
If for some reason you don’t know how Snapchat works, Murphy and Spiegel did a good job explaining it on the show: It’s an app for iPhone and Android that lets you send pictures to friends, but they disappear after a few seconds. The young app has weathered its fair share of controversy, from porn spam problems to accidentally inciting a massive booze dump at a college.
Surprisingly, when they talked to Colbert about the app, they explicitly mentioned that you can take screenshots of the photos – something that disrupts the illusion of impermanence associated with the pictures. Of course, the app alerts users if their photos get captured via screenshot, but you’d think they’d warn users against doing so, not publicize the possibility.
“Why do you have the option for the photos to disappear? What are the users of Snapchat ashamed of?” Colbert asked.
“I think the idea is to change the idea of what a photograph is and use it as a means of communication,” Murphy explained. “The disappearing aspect is an attempt to bring the service back to normal human communication, which is ephemeral and transient.”
But Colbert didn’t let the two founders get off without discussing the app’s potential for naughty-pic sending. “Is this a sexting app?” he asked, and repeated himself in case they didn’t hear. The founders said that, since you can take a screenshot, it’s not an ideal way to send X-rated shots. Colbert asked if there was a better way to send sexts, but Murphy and Spiegel had no answers.
The young founders came across as amiable and game, laughing off Colbert’s jabs: “Have you guys made a profit yet, or does that disappear after 10 seconds too?”
The interview was mostly lighthearted, although Murphy said they’re looking for ways to monetize in the future, which could mean changes to Snapchat’s current format – will it go the way of Instagram and start playing around with ads? If so, hopefully they’ll disappear after 10 seconds and not clog up the clean interface.
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