ashka patel– a story
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
link to petition: https://www.change.org/snapchat-emergency-delete
on january 15, 2021, at around 6:15 pm pst, an unknown person hacked my friend's account and posed as them needing some help. in the process of me trying to help my “friend,” they were able to receive my snapchat password, and they locked me out of my account by setting up two-factor authentication on their device. they had access to all of my “memories,” a feature snapchat encourages its users to utilize to store content, and therefore access to personal images, screenshots, and most pictures that i have taken on snapchat in the past few years. the hacker then sent messages to my friends telling them to tell me to create a new account to talk to them.
the hacker then continued to threaten me and provide ultimatums: give them my “my eyes only” password, and they would give me my recovery code, they would not hack my friends, they would not post images on my public story, they would not post my images on a revenge p*rn website, etc...
[the hacker did post semi-nude images of me on my public story, they threatened my friends, they created a group chat with family members and sent explicit pictures of me, and there is no way for me to know whether any of my images are posted online.]
my “my eyes only” included sensitive, explicit, and most of all personal content, so i did not give them the password. they then proceeded to post semi-nude images of me from my “memories” on my public snapchat story, and i do not know what they did with any of the other images, whether they are saved to their phone and shared with their friends or posted publicly on the internet. i acknowledge that this is sexual harassment and cyberbullying. in some photos, i am under the age of 18, which borders child p*rnography.
every time i changed the password, they changed it back. they set up a new two-factor authentication and refuse to give me the recovery code. my number has now been flagged by snapchat as i used it to verify a changed password too many times.
i filed out the snapchat report form right as they sent me the first threat, asking for access back to my account or for the account to be deleted. almost 12 hours later, i have received no reply. there is no helpline to call and nothing i can do. as of today, january 27, i have still not received help from snapchat, meaning my account is still in this sick person’s hands. i have contacted an engineer who works there who boosted the report internally, still to no avail.
i filed a police report with the fremont police department as it was going on out of fear for my safety. the case is still ongoing, and search warrants take months to process.
the hacker has access to all my personal content, and i feel violated and helpless. it is really difficult to process all of this, and - to put it bluntly - i’m scared.
feeling frustrated with the situation, i created a change.org petition, which i boosted via instagram and twitter. i received a lot of support from friends and family, and i learned that most women have gone through something similar. my petition does not have adequate signatures to make any tangible change, but i am proud of trying my best to alleviate a problem i know exists due to my first-hand experience.
snapchat is a growing social media platform catering internationally to people as young as 13. with new features like “memories” and “my eyes only,” introduced, many users store private and personal information, images, and more under the impression that it is safe.
although there are new protective features snapchat has implemented, such as two-factor authentication, accounts still continue to get compromised - thus private information and content are compromised, which can be unsafe, especially for minors. these features are also not widely publicized, and most of my friends did not even know about them. regardless, it is snapchat’s job to protect their users’ privacy, and snapchat does not have any sort of widely-known 24-hour helpline and does not provide a time frame for responding to filed reports through their support platform.
in the case that an account is compromised or hacked into, or in the case of some emergency, there should exist a way to quickly delete said account.
this may present itself as a 24-hour callable helpline or chat service, an emergency report form that will be responded to within a few hours, or something else. this platform should be available remotely and accessible to someone who does not have their phone.