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Are you on Snapchat?

Curious about what’s going on in the app marketplace? Popularity is spiking for Snapchat, as it is now the fourth most downloaded app for the iPhone and 31st for Android.

If you didn’t already know, Snapchat is an image-sharing application that allows you to share a moment with your friends, but for just that. A moment.

The app works like this, use the Snapchat camera to take a picture. Choose the amount of time you would like the photo to be viewed. The time can be up to ten seconds. Then, choose a friend and send. Once they receive your picture, they only have a couple of seconds to view it before it “explodes.” Unless you saved the picture before sending it, the photo is gone forever.

The fun of this app is that you can take an embarrassing picture of yourself and not worry about it being shared with people you don’t know or with friends and family you don’t want to see it.

You may think that pictures were meant to last forever, but teens don’t seem to think so.

Snapchat is becoming very popular among young people from ages 13-25. More than 1 billion photos have been shared since the app launched in September of 2011. About 30 percent of the photos sent, are sent to groups of people. Forbes explained that, “On Thanksgiving [day], the four-person company saw users send 1,000 photos every second.”

A special feature on the app allows users to be notified if their friends take a screenshot of their picture. The friend is able to save the picture if they quickly “hold the screen down” while viewing the photo.

The popularity of Snapchat may have risen from the playfulness of this feature. It becomes like a game to tease friends and leave them guessing at what they just saw. It’s also a challenge for the friend to try and take a screenshot quick enough to figure it out.

Unfortunately, plenty of teens are abusing the application to participate in “sexting”. Since many fear that their revealing pictures will be disclosed to groups of people, they use Snapchat as a safer outlet to minimize getting caught.

Some bloggers have called Snapchat, “The next Instagram.” Facebook actually created a similar application that is called Poke, which has not brought more attention to itself, but more attention to Snapchat instead.

Since the launch of Poke, Snapchat has exponentially grown in popularity. Users may believe that both apps permanently delete their pictures and videos; however, BuzzFeed has reported that there are ways to save videos that are saved in Snapchat cache folders. That makes it unfortunate for sexters out there, whose parents get a hold of their phones.

Snapchat is free to use, simple, and fun. Try this app and see how much fun you can have, but don’t forget that your pictures are only as safe as you make them.