Stop with the Snapchats, already!

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

It looks like Snapchat will take the crown in this week's edition of “What Smartphone App Is Causing Providers Grief Now?!” (Yelp won that distinction last week, for those keeping score at home).

Two Massachusetts nursing home employees were accused of posting inappropriate videos of residents to the popular “blink-and-you-missed-it” video and photo sharing app, which relatives of the residents allegedly saw and alerted police about.

And it's not the first time the app has landed nursing home employees in hot water either; some workers just can't seem to resist Snapchat's ability to send photos that vanish within seconds of their recipient viewing them.

“But wait!” the young and tech-savvy will cry. “How could the relatives see the videos unless they added the employees as friends? And how could they prove the videos even existed when they disappear after a few seconds?”

Honest answer? I have no idea. But it's not impossible, just look at the (frankly overdone) trend of teachers posting supposedly “private” photos to Snapchat in an effort to teach their students about internet privacy.

Before Snapchat became one of the most popular smartphone apps, I struggled to see its appeal. Why would I want to send someone a picture if it disappeared right after I sent it? But I downloaded it anyway, because heaven forbid I not be hip with the latest trends. It's three years later and I still think the app has its merits. But I've always been conscious of what pictures I'm sending, and to whom, mostly because of one flaw in Snapchat's “evidence-free” communication style: the screenshot.

When viewing a Snapchat, you have until the little 10-second timer in the corner ticks down to simultaneously hit the phone's lock and home buttons and capture an image of what's on your screen. If someone takes a screenshot of a photo you've sent, a little icon of an exclamation point appears in your app as if to say “Hey! This person now has proof that you sent that!”

Typically this isn't a problem if the photo was just of me making a weird face, or my dog looking particularly adorable. But I imagine that exclamation point icon caused some anxiety for those aforementioned nursing home workers, if screenshots were indeed what ending up doing them in.

Reading through the past Snapchat-related incidents, I came to see a trend: The workers caught sending Snapchats of residents all ranged between 21 and 23 years old. As a fellow young-ish person, allow me to speak to all you younger nursing home workers, Millennial to Millennial (or at least to those people who oversee them on a day-to-day basis):

Stop with the Snapchatting at work. Especially Snapchats of the people you're supposed to be caring for.

You probably think the picture you're sending out is hilarious, and some of your friends might think so too. But there's no way of knowing which of your friends will understand that what you're doing is wrong, screenshot it and turn it over to your bosses or the authorities.

So play it safe — leave your phone in your bag or car if you think the temptation might be too great. Because if you do get caught sending inappropriate Snapchats of your residents, the case may make the news like the ones who got busted before you. And easily-searchable newspaper articles of your wrongdoings won't disappear in 10 years, let alone 10 seconds.

Emily Mongan is Staff Writer at McKnight's. Follow her @emmongan. Her (very judiciously used) Snapchat handle is emongan.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.