In total, Motherboard spoke to four former employees and a current employee that verified the existence of the SnapLion tool. Two former employees said that the abuse of the SnapLion tool occurred “several years” ago, but it’s unknown whether it’s still happening today. Emails obtained by Motherboard revealed an employee using the tool to look-up a user email address in a non-law enforcement related context. Snapchat did not immediately respond to a request from Engadget for comment.
What stands out in the case of Snapchat is how easily employees across multiple departments were able to use the SnapLion tool for unrelated, internal purposes, such as handling spam and abuse on the platform. But such an internal tool isn’t unique to Snapchat, neither is abuse of private data by employees. Facebook fired a security engineer last year for using personal data to stalk women. Uber’s use of a “God View” tool that revealed rider’s location prompted an investigation by the New York State Attorney General. Both companies responded by promising stricter privacy controls; in the case of Facebook, the employee in question was fired. Snap, Inc. hasn’t confirmed whether the abuse has actually occurred, but tell Motherboard such abuse would result in termination.