Snapchat is a popular social media app used to share live stories and communicate with friends, but like all social media, Snapchat’s features are often abused. To report a Snapchat account for unlawful behavior, you should take the following steps:
- Preserve evidence of the offensive or unlawful content;
- Press and hold the user’s name within the Snapchat app;
- Select the “More” option; and
- Select, “Report,” and explain why you are reporting the account.
At Minc Law, we help clients respond to online defamation, harassment, and extortion across countless social media platforms. We have helped remove over 50,000 pieces of unwanted online content on behalf of more than 2,500 clients. We know what it takes to deal with unwanted and unlawful content on social media.
In this article, we will discuss the type of content that is prohibited on Snapchat and how to report such content to Snapchat support. We will also explain what the reporting process looks like and answer questions that we frequently field from Snapchat users.
Snapchat’s Community Guidelines to Know
When users browse or interact with virtually any website, they are expected to follow the website’s Terms and Conditions. Any user who fails to abide by the website’s terms may be banned from the site, or, in the case of social media platforms, have their content and/or account removed.
What Are the Community Guidelines For Snapchat?
Like most user-generated content platforms, Snapchat has Community Guidelines that all users are expected to follow. Posting stories or creating accounts that violate Snapchat’s Community Guidelines could result in the removal of posts or the banning of an account altogether.
Below we discuss the various types of content and activity that are prohibited on Snapchat.
Sexually Explicit Content
Pornographic content (whether consensual or revenge porn) is prohibited on Snapchat. Child pornography featuring anyone under the age of 18 is also prohibited and unlawful
If you discover pornographic content that you want removed from Snapchat, it is best to flag the content for Snapchat’s review.
Accounts That Promote or Distribute Pornographic Content
Accounts that post or distribute child pornography will be reported to authorities by Snapchat’s moderators. You should never save or share pornographic content featuring someone under the age of 18, even of yourself.
You should also be aware of the dangers of sexting on Snapchat – because you could be inadvertently speaking with a minor.
Harassment & Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying and harassment are serious issues on social media. Snapchat prohibits both bullying and harassment on its platform. While some forms of harassment are more subtle, snaps of people in private spaces like a bathroom or locker room are expressly prohibited.
A good rule of thumb is to remove any Snap if someone asks that you remove it because it is likely not worth getting banned.
Threats, Violence, & Harm
Similar to the prohibition on harassment and bullying, threats and violent language will not be tolerated on Snapchat. You should never threaten to harm a person or group of people or glorify self-harm because it could result in the deletion of your account.
Likewise, do not share snaps of graphic violence or anything that could be construed as promoting violence.
Impersonation, Deception, & False Information
Do not create an account or post a Story that impersonates another person. If you are trying to deceive anyone about who you are, your account could be deleted.
Snapchat also prohibits spam, deceptive content, and false information (like unsubstantiated medical claims). Defamation (sometimes referred to as social media defamation) is another form of false information that violates Snapchat’s Community Guidelines.
Above, we noted Snapchat’s prohibition of child pornography, but users are also not permitted to share other forms of unlawful content. This includes posts and messages regarding the purchase or sale of illicit drugs, weapons, and counterfeit goods.
Attempts to extort another Snapchat user (including sextortion) may also be considered an unlawful use of the platform.
Terrorism, Hate Groups, & Hate Speech
Terrorist organizations and hate groups have no place on Snapchat’s platform. Likewise, content that advocates terrorism, extremism, or violence against protected groups is not allowed.
Snapchat aims to be an inclusive social media platform for all types of users and any form of hate speech runs counter to Snapchat’s vision.
How Can a Person Be Penalized For Breaking Snapchat’s Community Guidelines?
Depending on the nature of the content violating Snapchat’s guidelines, the platform may penalize offending users in a variety of ways. Snapchat will notify law enforcement regarding any unlawful content or activity on its platform.
Snapchat may also remove the Snap featuring offending content, limit the visibility of a particular account, or delete an account and prohibit the user from accessing the platform again.
What Else Should You Know About Snapchat Community Guidelines?
Snapchat’s Community Guidelines are monitored by its own content moderators as well as trusted flaggers, like non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies that help keep the platform safe for all users.
Snapchat considers safety a shared responsibility and even employs a Safety Advisory Board to ensure the platform remains a safe community.
Steps to Report Content on Snapchat
There are two primary types of content on Snapchat: a Snap and a Story. A Snap is a picture or video sent through the Snapchat app to one or more persons that disappears after the receiving party opens it, while a Story is a compilation of Snaps that is visible to all Snapchat friends for up to 24 hours after posting.
When reporting offensive content and accounts on Snapchat it is important to first preserve evidence before lodging a report.
If you are reporting defamatory content, revenge porn, or unlawful activity that could result in legal action (in any form) you should especially document and keep copies of relevant evidence for yourself.
There is always a chance the other user could alter or delete the content and if you have not preserved your own copy, you may not be able to hold the user accountable.
How Do You Preserve Evidence of a Snapchat Story Before It is Altered by the Poster?
To preserve evidence of a Snapchat Story before it is deleted or altered, you can take a screenshot of the post on your phone. However, Snapchat notifies the person who posted the Story if you take a screenshot.
Fortunately, there are ways to screenshot a Snap without the other user receiving a ‘screenshot notification’. The best way to report a Snap without the other user knowing is to:
- Navigate to the Story or Snap,
- Enable airplane mode on your phone, and
- Screenshot the Story.
A second method to screenshot a Snap or Story without the other user receiving a ‘screenshot notification’ is to use a second phone or device to take a photo of the offending content.
How to Report a Snapchat Story or Snap
There are two primary ways of reporting unlawful or prohibited content on Snapchat: reporting the Story and/or Snap, or reporting the account. More often than not, it is the Story and/or Snap that must be reported, so we will start by explaining how to report a specific Story.
To report a Story or Snap as a safety concern on the Snapchat app:
- Navigate to the Story or Snap you want to report,
- Press and hold down on the Story or Snap,
- Press the “Report Snap” button,
- Select your reason for reporting the Story or Snap (a dialog box will list types of prohibited content), and
- Click submit.
To report a Story or Snap from your computer browser:
- Navigate to the Story or Snap you want to report,
- Click the (share) button at the bottom right of the Snap,
- Click “Report Snap,”
- Select your reason for reporting the Story or Snap from the dialog box that appears, and
- Click submit.
How to Report a Snapchat Account
Reporting a Snapchat account is also an available option. This may be the best method of reporting an account that is impersonating you, deceptive, or promoting terrorism, child pornography, or other unlawful activity.
To report a Snapchat account in the app:
- Press and hold on the Snapchat user’s name,
- Press the “More” option or tap the ⚙ button,
- Select “Report” and explain why you are reporting the Account.
If I Report Someone on Snapchat Will They Know if I Reported Them?
All reports made on Snapchat are anonymous. Even if your report results in the removal of the Snapchat user’s content or account, they will not know that it was you who reported them.
What Do You Need to Do After You Report Content to Snapchat?
There is very little you need to do while awaiting Snapchat’s response. Snapchat will send you an email if any other steps need to be taken. They will also notify you if they decide the reported content does, in fact, violate their community guidelines.
Can You Report Snapchat Stories to the Police?
After you preserve evidence of unlawful content, the first step should be to report the content to Snapchat. While Snapchat may then report unlawful content to law enforcement, it does not hurt to contact your local police if you feel a crime is being committed.
What Happens When You Report a Snapchat Story & Account
When you report a Snapchat Story or account, Snapchat moderators will review the report to see if there is a violation of their Guidelines.
If there is a violation, they will determine whether action needs to be taken – like removing the Story, suspending the account, or terminating the account. If the content is unlawful, Snapchat may contact law enforcement.
What Does Snapchat Do When They Receive Report of a Story That Violates Their Community Guidelines?
Once you report a Story or account to Snapchat, they will review the content to see if it violates their community guidelines. It is within Snapchat’s full discretion whether they will remove offensive content or an account. Legally, the user posting unlawful content is solely liable for their actions.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects internet service providers, like Snapchat, from liability for the content posted to its platform by third parties. This means you generally cannot sue Snapchat for content posted to its platform (unless a limited exception applies). But you may be able to sue the user who posted the unlawful content – even if Snapchat opts not to remove their Story or account. For an easy-to-understand explanation of Section 230 and why sites like Snapchat are protected from liability as a result, check out our video below.
Video: What is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?
How Does Snapchat Try to Rectify an Issue That Violates Their Community Guidelines?
Snapchat moderators can take several courses of action if a post or account breaks their Community Guidelines, although they are under no legal obligation to do so. They can delete the offending content, suspend an account, or delete an account entirely.
Snapchat may also notify law enforcement if the account or post displays unlawful activity. If an account is deleted for violating Snapchat’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, the user is prohibited from using Snapchat again.
How Many Reports Does It Take to Get Someone Banned From Snapchat?
While Snapchat’s community guidelines and Terms of Service do not indicate a minimum number of reports to get an account banned, we have found that it may sometimes take three reports (or more) for a user to be issued a permanent ban.
Snapchat likely determines whether or not to ban an account based on the nature of the offending content rather than the number of reports.
For instance, if Snapchat receives three frivolous reports (that do not cite a legitimate guideline violation) for an account, it is possible they might not ban the account. On the other hand, it stands to reason that a singular report for a serious offense like child pornography could result in the banning of an account.
What is Snapchat’s Record of Removing Content That Violates Their Community Guidelines?
Snapchat responds to every report by investigating the reported content or account. Anything that violates their community guidelines can be removed, but it is entirely within Snapchat’s discretion whether to remove a Story or account.
How Long Does it Take For Snapchat to Respond to a Report?
In our experience, Snapchat’s team of moderators will usually respond to a complaint within 24–48 hours. Yet, it is worth noting that many users claim that Snapchat Support has taken longer than 48 hours to respond to their report.
Snapchat’s moderators likely receive thousands of reports a day, given the fact they have an estimated 280 million daily active users worldwide. Snapchat does respond to every request, although some requests take longer to review than others.
One tech website suggests reaching out to Snapchat on Twitter if you are having trouble getting a quick response. By tagging and mentioning Snapchat customer service in a Tweet, all of Snapchat’s followers will see your request.
Like most companies, Snapchat wants to show all users that they take safety concerns seriously – and calling them out on social media may be a simple way to prompt action.
How Long is the Process Through Which Snapchat Handles the Content & Reaches Out to the Content Creator?
Snapchat may respond to any report within as little as 24–48 hours, but that does not always mean the issue will be resolved in that timeframe.
After reporting unlawful content on Snapchat, or submitting a complaint, you can expect to receive a confirmation email with your case number. However, Snapchat notes that they may not be able to respond to every report they receive.
If the account or content is reported to law enforcement, the content or user may be removed rather quickly, but a legal investigation could take much longer. In a word, reporting may just be the first step in a long, legal process if a Snapchatter breaks the law.
Minc Law Can Help You Report & Remove Snapchat Stories or Accounts
If you are the target of unwanted or unlawful Snapchat attacks, we can help. We have extensive experience removing unlawful content, profiles, and posts from popular social media platforms and apps, identifying anonymous defamers, and holding perpetrators accountable.
“I had a positive, results drive experience with Kaelynn Vargo and Dorrian Horsey. From my initial contact with Kaelynn through working with Dorrian on my internet matter, both demonstrated enthusiasm, energy, and a sense of purpose in assisting me in resolving my issue. I was impressed with their prompt response time and informative status updates. Both were professional, approachable, organized, and respectful. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking premium services.”
ML, Apr 8, 2021
If a Snapchatter is defaming you, we can also help file a defamation lawsuit and obtain a court order to put an end to the harassment. It is critical however that you preserve all Snaps and Stories.
To learn more or schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our office at (216) 373-7706 or complete our online contact form.