Snapchat: To Block or Not to Block?
By CHLOE CITRON
The popular app Snapchat is a quick and simple way to share pictures or videos with friends without the picture being saved. Jericho High School students often use this popular application to interact with their peers throughout the school day. However, Snapchat was recently blocked from the school’s network, causing much student distress.
Snapchat allows users to send pictures or videos for one to ten seconds to a select recipient or group of recipients. After the image is displayed it is supposed to erase itself, although there is a new feature that allows users to replay one “snap” that they receive a day. There is also always a chance that the picture will be captured by taking a screenshot. There are even applications such as SnapBox that save every snap received to one’s camera roll. Users can add text or drawings to the image as well as a choice of three effects, the temperature, or time of the user’s location.
“Snapchat is categorized by our filter as ‘Chat and Instant messaging’ which has always been blocked for everyone,” said Jericho’s Director of Technology, Linda Alesi. “It was not an individual person’s decision. Jericho uses web filter to monitor and block inappropriate content. Websites and application are blocked according to policies. Jericho’s web filter permits members of the technology department to override sites that they feel have appropriate educational value. By law, every school district must filter inappropriate material.”
Ms. Alesi further explained that the school’s filter updates every five minutes, blocking or unblocking different websites. Jericho blocks categories such as illegal downloads, pornography, weapons, illegal drugs, and games. When Snapchat first came out, it was an uncategorized application and therefore passed the school’s filter for a period of time. However, it recently changed its category to “Chat and Messaging,” which caused the school’s network to block it automatically. In addition, Snapchat recently changed its technology so that the app itself could be more secure, which also contributed to Jericho’s filter’s recognizing it differently.
Many students used Twitter as an outlet for their frustration over the matter. “Can we start a petition for Jericho to unblock Snapchat?” tweeted sophomore Perri Sheftel, who gained many replies and favorites for the tweet. She explained that she enjoyed using Snapchat because it is easy to use throughout the school day. “I was frustrated when I found out that Snapchat was blocked because it felt like my source of communication with my friends was taken away from me.”
However, according to Alesi, it is possible that Snapchat might be unblocked in the future if it proves to have some educational purpose or if enough students demand it. If a student or teacher thinks that something should be unblocked from the school’s network, “They should bring it to the attention of the technology department to see what measures can be taken,” Alesi said.