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Photo App in Spotlight After Steubenville Rape Case

Updated: Friday, March 22 2013, 11:40 PM EDT
COLUMBUS -- An advocate for victims of a sexual assault is calling the popular cell phone app Snap Chat “concerning” in light of a case in Steubenville, Ohio, where cell phone photos helped to convict two high school football players of rape. 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office prosecuted the case, said similar crimes happen regularly, but victims remain silent.

In this case, where a teenager was assaulted while passed out drunk, "This tragedy, this rape may have gone unreported but for social media," DeWine said. 

Snap Chat would have made the images used to prosecute the case go away in an instant.

It allows users to receive and send photos that exist for no more than ten seconds. 

Social media consultant Christian Adams explains the app leaves almost no evidence of tame or tawdry photos that have been sent.

While there is a list of recent activity, the photos disappear. 

"Can a parent see if snap chat is on the phone? Yes.  Can they see the activity? Not necessarily," Adams said. 

Child psychologist David Lowestein says it’s a fun app that makes it easy for kids to dismiss frightening consequences. 

"They think it's really simplistic -- ‘Oh, I'll just delete it and it will go away, or it's just to my boyfriend or my girlfriend or a few of my friends.’  Clearly it's not,” Lowenstein said. 

While Snap Chat is designed so that photos exist for no more than ten seconds, photos can be captured on the device that receives them, allowing them to be re-shared, or in extreme cases such as the one in Steubenville, used as state’s evidence for better or worse. 

The lesson for parents, according to Lowenstein: "I think you keep on talking [to children] about what's going on, and I think you need to bring up examples of what's going on -- like maybe talking about the Steubenville issue."

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Reporter: Dana Jay
Web Producer: Ken HinesPhoto App in Spotlight After Steubenville Rape Case


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