When Google Glass was first released in 2013, the Internet giant also pushed out a guideline for Glass Explorers, telling them “don’t be creepy”. It appears that it was this advice that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel took to heart and acted upon, openly disassociating his company from Google and Facebook during last year’s pitch of Snapchat’s new 3V advertising platform at Cannes Lions, one of the world’s biggest marketing and advertising events.
In a short video explaining what this ad platform is about, Spiegel reinforced their standpoint that it’s important for them to respect their community and their privacy.
Recently, however, Snapchat has made moves that may make one wonder if the CEO suddenly had a change of heart about being “creepy”.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Snapchat has begun allowing advertisers to target their consumers by offering three distinct products to choose from:
- Snap Audience Match allows marketers to make use of Snapchat’s own pool of users’ data and anonymously match them with other existing user databases containing email addresses and mobile device IDs—users can opt out of this
- Snapchat Lifestyle Categories lets advertisers target users that normally consume themed videos, such as those with sports, politics, fashion, or video gaming content
- Lastly, “Lookalikes” allows users to be targeted based on a set of characteristics similar to consumers using an advertiser’s product.
Then late last week, Spiegel unveiled (the same day Snapchat is rebranded to Snap Inc.) that they will be pushing out a new hardware in the market called Spectacles (or Specs), a pair of video-capturing sunglasses Spiegel calls a “toy”, this fall to the tune of $129.99 (roughly £100) a piece.
If this seems like “Google Glass redux” to you, you’re not alone. Spec resigning to the same fate as its predecessor is another question that users would have to wait and see. Although we’re already seeing early positive comments for this product, and one may consider Spec as “just another GoPro device”, the issue of privacy continues to loom on the horizon.
Some social media users already fear that Spec can be used for surveillance purposes or collection of personal information, two things that privacy watchdogs also raised with the advent of Glass. Granted that Snap has made their sunglasses for the purpose of making the user experience more real and personal, one may not simply be convinced that it cannot be used for other purposes.
As of this writing, one can surmise that surreptitious capturing may not be possible as a ring of LED lights flash when it’s doing a 30-second recording. It is unclear, however, if posted recorded videos are as evanescent as the Snapchat messages.