SOU Snapchat: More or Less Moralless

*Pictures taken from the Snapchat story have been edited 

When a campus filter was made available to Snapchaters on and around Southern Oregon University last fall, it proved that the school is no exception in America’s growing obsession with ephemeral data, or “disappearing pictures,” a fairly new development in social media.

It’s not uncommon to see students in the dining hall covering their face with one hand while trying to “return fire” and capture an unflattering picture of their friend with the other. Even some communications courses use Snapchat for assignments since the app’s connectivity and familIMG_3128iarity to students has proven to be an efficient way of gathering responses.  

As notable as the official Raider filter is, the unofficial campus story has become just as prominent among students. “Our Campus Stories” was an addition to the ever-expanding app that allows users close by a University to upload pictures and videos on a central story, this then can be viewed by those within the same range as the uploaders.  Snapchat monitors and selects which snaps get posted on the story to keep the image of the school tasteful and in compliance with their terms of service.  

While SOU doesn’t yet have it’s own official story, there is however, an account popular among the student body which is able to sidestep the all seeing eye of Snapchat that featured campus stories stories are subject to.

Sou.snaps is as diverse and random as the population of Southern Oregon University itself.  With anyone being able to submit a picture or video to the account anonymously, the collective story has evolved to a lawless beast promoting debauchery. During the week, there seems to be a recurrence of snaps featuring the surrounding mountains, someone ditching class to watch Netflix and usually a picture of alcohol
captioned, “Goin up on a (fill in the weekday).”

Looking at it on any given weekend is quite similar to watching an episode of Blue Mountain State, except you might recognize the people getting wasted from your classes. While some pictures of campus or a school spirited selfie would make the cut for an official School story, much of the content posted is more explicit.  Mostly, the feed features videos of people smoking weed, “what are those” jokes, boosey group photos, and alcohol collections; with the occasional cat or risque shot of a woman mixed in.  

Though the account is added and viewed just as any other individual user, content on the stories is submitted by anyone who is “friends” with the account by them sending a picture or video to the person running it. If selected, the sent snap is recorded on a third party software and then posted to the story, becoming available for all of those following the account to watch it for the next 24 hours.

IMG_3141Unsurprisingly, Snapchat accounts like this are common since college aged kids seem to enjoy documenting doing drugs, drinking and having sex just as much as the acts themselves. Snapchat has been known to delete these accounts and makes clear that they have no responsibility when it comes to third party features in their Terms of Service:

“If you use a service, feature, or functionality that is operated by a third party and made available through our Services (including Services we jointly offer with the third party), each party’s terms will govern the respective party’s relationship with you. Snapchat is not responsible or liable for those third party’s terms or actions taken under the third party’s terms.”

While there’s no telling how long this account will be around, it’s important to remember that anything put into the cyber-world never really goes away.  Having your friend replay an unflattering double chin snap might seem cruel, but it’s really the tip of the iceberg when looking at what can be saved and leaked at any given time.

*Multiple attempts were made to get in touch with the person who runs the account through snaps, but they were posted on the story and unreturned.