Last week, when OnlyFans announced their intent to prohibit adult content (which they’ve since retracted), many had flashbacks to occasions where platforms popularized and populated by sex workers decided to ban pornography or explicit imagery. Among those platforms is Snapchat, an app best known for the sneaky sexting opportunities it can provide.
With Snapchat, users can send text, photos and videos that can typically only be seen for a matter of seconds before disappearing entirely. When the app first became available a decade ago, people immediately took advantage of this impermanence to sext with others, whether that be with people they knew in real life or strangers they met online. Likewise, if someone were to screenshot a Snap, the sender would be notified immediately. This makes it even more perfect for sexting and sending porn — though it’s still possible to steal content through screenshots and screen grabs, the sender would at least have an idea of who stole them. Unsurprisingly, this has also made it ideal for digital sex workers, whose content is often stolen and distributed without their consent.
While Snapchat’s community guidelines have always prohibited the distribution of pornography and its founder has repeatedly claimed it isn’t for sexting, Snapchat has become even more hostile toward sex workers in recent years, cracking down on “premium” accounts where people charge subscribers a monthly fee to view nudes and videos on the app. But aside from the blatant mistreatment of sex workers this entails, there’s another big problem with this: Snapchat is still loaded with porn (or at least, it is in the imagination of those who want it to be).
There are a number of subreddits with hundreds of thousands of members devoted specifically to such content. Among them are r/NSFW_Snapchat and r/Snapleaks, which have over a million subscribers between them. Despite the latter having “leaks” in its name, most of the posts appear to be made by the actual people in the photos — they’re intentionally sharing their own content, playing into the fantasy that private, ephemeral Snaps have been leaked.
In fact, on both r/NSFW_Snapchat and r/Snapleaks, many of the posts don’t make any reference to Snapchat at all. Instead, the posts are sexy photos much like you’d find in any other NSFW sub with generic captions like, “Would you fuck my ass?”
Selling in any form is prohibited on these subreddits, but many of the users in r/NSFW_Snapchat and r/Snapleaks have OnlyFans links in their Reddit bios. Rather than being about Snapchat itself, the groups seem more to be about the fantasy of Snapchat, or the idea that you might be covertly sexting with some girl you know in town who’s decided to be naughty today.
One subreddit, r/DirtySnap, presents a different dynamic. There are very few photos on the page at all — instead, it’s primarily one-sentence posts from people looking for others to sext with on Snapchat. Presumably, some of these offers could be a ploy toward a premium Snapchat or OnlyFans, but the majority appear to be amateurs looking to find someone to talk dirty with.
Elsewhere on the web, there are dozens of “leak” sites claiming to document the exact types of photos and videos one might receive in a round of Snapchat sexting. Porn-aggregator site ThePornDude has an entire webpage titled “Snapchat Nudes Sites,” linking out to 52 different websites and subreddits that adhere to the theme. Again, not all actually feature content from Snapchat. Rather, the majority appear to be leaks (either authentically stolen content or consensually distributed but labelled as a leak regardless) from OnlyFans. Nevertheless, the Snapchat name itself seems to be part of the fantasy.
On ThePornDude’s Snapchat page description, he gives a pretty decent explanation of why: “Snaps usually disappear as if by magic, no matter if they’ve got a top-shelf blowjob or just a little bit of lesbian fun,” he writes. “On a site like NSFWonSnap, they live on forever for your masturbatory enjoyment. Don’t worry about missing that cosplay girl’s boobie flashing video, because one of these archives is sure to have it saved for posterity.”
It seems that despite Snapchat’s rules, there’s indeed still plenty of sexting and nudity that flies under their radar, whether that be between two amateur parties or via a premium Snapchat. But with sites like OnlyFans, premium Snaps have become far less relevant. They’re certainly still out there, but primarily as a tool for marketing elsewhere.
Nevertheless, it’s simply the idea of Snapchat that continues to have an allure. When we imagine content to have come from Snapchat, it feels a bit more taboo, like we’re seeing something that, after existing for only a few seconds, could have been lost forever. Instead, it becomes ours to keep, a strange, horny trophy hard won in the hunt for porn.