What Data Does Snapchat Collect?

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media apps, but before you send the infamous disappearing message, learn what data Snapchat collects and how to protect yourself.
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Understanding what data Snapchat collects is important in order to maintain your privacy on the social media app. The data includes personally identifiable information, device and location data, as well as other information.

Snapchat needs to collect these details to operate as intended, but there are ways to keep your data private. Adjusting your privacy settings and using one of the best VPNs can help keep your information secure on Snapchat.

In this article
What data does Snapchat collect about you?
How does Snapchat use your information?
How to change your Snapchat privacy settings
Other ways to stop Snapchat from collecting your data
Why you should care about Snapchat collecting user data
FAQs on Snapchat’s data collection
Bottom line

What data does Snapchat collect about you?

Data collected What that data includes When it’s collected
Personal information Name, username, email address, phone number, date of birth At sign up
Messaging information Direct messages Generated through your use
Location information IP address, precise location through GPS signals Generated through your use
Device/usage information Hardware model, operating system, apps installed, IP address, device usage data, browser type, battery level, time zone Generated through your use

Like most software companies, Snapchat is always looking to improve user experience and deliver relevant content. As such, it collects an extensive amount of data. This includes basic personal information for account set up, messaging activity, location activity, and device/usage information.

When you set up a Snapchat account, your personal information is collected to create that account: Your name and birthdate are required. If you set up two-factor authentication (2FA), you’ll also enter your phone number for verification.

Once your account is up and running, Snapchat collects information on your messaging activity. This type of data collection is extensive, including all the content you create in the app — everything you send and receive. This includes Snaps, stories, chats, Bitmojis, and voice and video calls.

Snapchat monitors the content and collects when you send and to whom you send messages. It also keeps tabs on your location through features like Snap Map, which shows your location to family and friends, as well as your IP address, web beacons, and information collected by cookies.

Lastly, Snapchat pays close attention to your device and usage information, storing device information like:

  • Your hardware
  • The software you are using
  • Which operating system you use
  • Device memory
  • Installed apps
  • Which browser you use
  • Whether you’re using headphones
  • Info about your wireless and mobile connections

As far as usage information goes, Snapchat stores data on how you interact with its services, like which Lenses you use and apply, the Stories you watch, who you frequently communicate with, and your engagement with the camera and creation tools.

How does Snapchat use your information?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by social media terms of service, but we’re here to help. Snapchat collects a trove of data for several reasons. According to its privacy policy, the information it collects is used to provide users with personalized products and services and improve its current services.

The Snapchat privacy policy is fairly straightforward about the reasons for collecting so much data, citing the following:

  • Keeping the app running smoothly
  • Personalizing your experience to serve you more content that you may be interested in or suggest new friends
  • Providing relevant ads
  • Developing and improving features and artificial intelligence (AI) learning models
  • Analytics
  • Research
  • Safety and security
  • Support

However, the amount of data collected and why may be concerning if you’re focused on keeping your data private. That’s where Snapchat’s privacy settings come into play.

How to change your Snapchat privacy settings

Even with the app closed, Snapchat still has a large amount of your data, so adjusting your privacy settings is crucial in protecting your information. Changing your privacy settings can help you control who can contact you, which notifications you receive, who views your story, and who can see your location, your activity indicator, and more.

To change your privacy settings on Snapchat:

  1. Tap the gear icon in the Profile screen to open Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Privacy Controls and select an option you wish to alter.
    The Snapchat settings page.
  3. Choose an option and update the toggle. For example, you can toggle off Ghost Mode and Hide My Location.
    The Snapchat location settings page.

Other ways to stop Snapchat from collecting your data

Adjusting your Snapchat privacy settings is a good first step in protecting your information, but limiting the data collected requires more than simply adjusting your privacy settings. Practice social media safety tips, and follow these steps to ensure your data is safe online:

  • Make sure your apps and software programs are up to date and protected with the latest security updates.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in apps.
  • Review permissions — turn off location services and allow access only to your contacts.
  • Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • Adjust your ad settings.
  • Block suspicious accounts.
  • Use a password generator to create strong, unique passwords.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).

Best VPNs for keeping your data private

Using a VPN is one of the simplest ways to keep your data private online. VPNs encrypt your online traffic so it can’t be easily seen, masking your true IP address so your physical location is hidden. We’ve compiled some of the best VPNs on the market for you to compare below:

  • NordVPN: This ultra-secure, high-speed VPN offers malware protection, intrusive ad, and third-party trackers. If you opt for a higher tier plan, it comes with added benefits like a password manager and dark web monitoring.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review

  • Surfshark: This affordable VPN option features real-time malware defense, webcam protection, rotating and static IP, and more. An added bonus is that Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can cover every device in your home.

    Get Surfshark | Read Our Surfshark Review

  • CyberGhost: This popular VPN service offers fast speeds, high levels of security and privacy, a strict no-logs policy, and more. It’s also one of the most affordable VPNs on the market.

    Get CyberGhost | Read CyberGhost Review

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
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  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
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Why you should care about Snapchat collecting user data

Snapchat’s data collection practices are concerning for several reasons. Collecting, storing, and sharing your information with third-party services exposes you to cyberthreats, including data breaches and potential identity theft.

While some third parties purchase or share information for targeted ads, cybercriminals can also purchase data so tey can carry out scams. Data brokers are constantly collecting personal data, and using one of the best data removal services can ensure your data is removed from the internet.

FAQs on Snapchat’s data collection


What third parties does Snapchat share data with?

Snapchat shares information with business partners and other third parties who perform services on Snapchat’s behalf, including payments and optimized ads. It also shares info about your device and usage information.


Does Snapchat see everything you send?

According to Snapchat’s privacy policy, there are two types of content; private and public. Private content and communications includes: Snaps and Chats with friends, stories set to Friends, private stories, or content shared in My Eyes Only. Public content is accessible to everyone.


What information does Snapchat AI collect?

If you’ve already granted location permission to Snapchat, Snapchat’s AI accesses your location to provide personalized recommendations when you ask for them while chatting with My AI.


Is Snapchat safe for privacy?

With its standard settings, Snapchat collects and shares an excessive amount of information. However, if you adjust privacy settings and use a VPN while using social media, we consider Snapchat safe enough for use.

Bottom line

Snapchat collects a lot of user data, but if you want to use the social media app safely, there are ways to enjoy the platform while keeping yourself safe online. Protect yourself from data collection by adjusting privacy settings, reviewing permissions, and, most importantly, downloading a top-notch VPN service to keep your online activities anonymous.

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  • Unlimited bandwidth, DNS and IP leak protection, and automatic kill switch available for up to 7 devices
  • Configurable with your router, smart TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, or gaming console
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Author Details
Courtney Daybell brings over 15 years of experience in print journalism and holds a B.A. in Communications from Brigham Young University. Her focus has shifted to cyber security, where she specializes in topics such as identity theft protection, password managers, antivirus software, and more.