The Differences Between a Facebook Poke and Snapchat

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Facebook users may remember using “Poke” as a way to interact playfully with friends on the social networking site, but the original Poke app has recently been updated in order to compete with a new photo sharing app released last year called Snapchat. Although Poke and Snapchat are very similar, there are a few differences between the apps both in available features and terms of service.

Both of these apps allow users to send pictures to friends using their smart phones. This is nothing new- most phones equipped with a camera and picture messaging services from the phone service carrier allow users to exchange photos. The innovation behind Snapchat and Poke is in what happens to the photos after they are sent: these apps incorporate a timed self destruct feature that deletes the photo and makes it unavailable to the recipient after the time limit is over. Snapchat’s time limit is fully customizable between 1 and 10 seconds. On Poke, users can choose between increments of 1, 3, 5, or 10 seconds.

Because it is specifically designed as a Facebook app, Poke uses Facebook to locate the user’s friends who also have a Facebook account and who use Poke, and Poke users are stuck with the same username associated with their Facebook profile. Snapchat allows for more flexibility- users can search for friends with Facebook or by phone number or username, are not limited to using their Facebook account to log in to the app, and are able to choose a screen name separate from their real name.

Snapchat and Poke both include photo editing features that allow users to add drawings and text to photos before sending. Snapchat seems to have the wider selection of drawing colors at the moment, but Poke has the added options of sending text only messages, short videos, and the original style “pokes” from back when the app first got started on Facebook.

In addition to user features, there are also a few differences related to terms of service between the two apps. Snapchat makes it very clear in their terms of service that no photos are stored or viewable by employees of Snapchat. Facebook seems to be keeping to its usual vague style when handling user privacy issues, so at this time it is unclear whether Facebook is storing Poke photos on their servers, or for how long. Poke appears to be bundled under Facebook’s general terms of service for the time being, and if so, photos may be stored- at least temporarily- on Facebook’s servers before being deleted. In order to be competitive with Snapchat, Facebook may eventually need to create a separate terms of service agreement for Poke that guarantees photos are destroyed immediately after the time limit.

Poke does at least allow users to clear their inbox so that any messages sent but not yet viewed by recipients are instantly destroyed. Although the main draw of both of these apps is the self destruct feature that makes the photos disappear after the time limit, it’s not guaranteed with either service. Screenshots of the sent images can be captured if the recipient is quick enough. Snapchat and Poke both notify the sender if their image has be caught as a screenshot, but there is nothing that can be done to delete the saved photo held by the recipient if this happens.

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