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Policy: Technology

Will Rand Paul and the reporters who cover him kill Snapchat?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Technology,Snapchat

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., whose father organized an army of young libertarians into a robust presidential campaign last cycle, is joining Snapchat.

Snapchat is "the disappearing-photo service that has become one of the most popular social-messaging platforms for young people," Politico's Mike Allen noted in reporting the social media move. "His handle will be SenatorRandPaul, and he plans to send his first snap tonight. TIME wrote recently that photo messages are so popular they 'could make texting obsolete.' "

Paul will use the service to distribute backstage photos as he travels, according to Allen, which will doubtless delight some of the younger users who comprise an important part of his base.

Here's the thing about Snapchat: It's known as a "disappearing-photo service," but the pictures don't actually automatically delete from your phone.

"Snapchat's 'self-destructing' images don't actually disappear — they are stored in a hidden folder on your phone and can be retrieved, according to a digital forensics company," the Sydney Morning Herald reported in May.

Every time Paul sends a Snapchat, some reporter will retrieve the photo and publish it online — amiright, Washington press corps? That's fine for Paul, but what about the users who are reminded every time they see another published image that Snapchat doesn't actually get rid of the pictures? Will they feel as confident about using the program?

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