The new “Snap Kit” developer platform hopes to replace the “log in with Facebook” buttons that have become a common fixture of thousands of apps and websites.
Harnessing an existing system that hundreds of millions of people are already logged in to makes it easier for apps to recruit new users. However, critics say that it sometimes comes at a high cost to users’ privacy.
Facebook has reined in the amount of data it shares with third-party apps after it emerged this year that millions of users’ intimate details were siphoned off to Cambridge Analytica via a survey app, where the data may have been used to influence political campaigns in the US and UK.
However, Facebook’s recent changes to bolster its platform’s privacy protections have caused disruption for some developers, creating an opportunity for Snap to offer a similar service, albeit with a much more limited set of data.
Snap Inc. will only share a Snapchat user’s name and, if they wish, their personalised Bitmoji avatar with other apps. Facebook previously allowed developers access to lists of friends, birthdays and other personal information.
Apps including Tinder, Postmates and Giphy are among the early adopters of Snap Kit. Snap said a team of moderators would review every app that plugged into Snap Kit, which can also be used to pull highlights from other apps — such as a game’s high score or the distance of a run — into the Snapchat camera.
“The main value proposition both for Snapchat users and third-party apps in this exchange is the creative experience, not the exchange of data in the way it might be in other developer platforms,” Katherine Tassi, deputy general counsel at Snap, told the Financial Times. “A privacy lawyer and privacy engineer has been working with the product team all the way through the development process, reviewing the specs and the features, making sure we build privacy into the design.”