The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Oh Snap! U of S student makes Snapchat bot

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Daniel Sanche (pictured) is the creator of U of S Snapchat aggregator usask-snaps2.

University of Saskatchewan students now have a collective Snapchat account to post pictures on, officially known as usask-snaps2.

Snapchat is a photo-messaging app where users can take photos or videos and then send them to other users with added text or drawings.

Usask-snaps2 is simple for anyone to use. Anyone with a Snapchat account can search “usask-snaps2” and add the account as a friend. Those who have added usask-snaps2 can then post photos, which become visible as a Snapchat story.

Creator of usask-snaps2 Daniel Sanche hoped students would post photos of events happening at the U of S. Instead, much of the content has consisted of drugs, homework and selfies.

“I made it hoping that people would share events going on, but it’s more just people trying to freak each other out,” Sanche said.

Students can use the usask-snaps2 account to see what others are doing, both on and off campus.

“It’s another way to let students share around the university and you can really see what’s going on all over, and very quickly,” Sanche said. “It’s nice to see events, but it’s also interesting to see what people post when it’s unfiltered.”

Sanche, a third-year computer science student at the U of S, created usask-snaps2 on Mar. 9. The account currently has over 2,000 users.

“It’s really easy to use. People just send any pictures to it and it will post them. Anything you send to it, it will post,” Sanche said.

The content users can post is unrestricted. Past photos have included graphic content, such as illicit photos of a sexual nature, which Sanche thought might happen.

“I can log into the account and manually delete stuff,” Sanche said. “I kind of did that at first, but over time it’s not something I want to do — spend time monitoring every picture.”

Usask-snaps2 functions as a normal Snapchat account, but has a web bot monitoring it.

A web bot repeats the same tasks automatically once programmed. Sanche took a Snapchat bot template off the Internet and modified the code. From there, he set up the usask-snaps2 account.

The bot automatically checks every 10 minutes for new Snaps that have been sent to the account and then posts the content.

The account is also subject to crashes, especially with the large volume of content posted by users. Sanche had to change the settings so only one snap would be posted every two minutes instead of instantaneously. If the account does crash, Sanche has to reset it.

Beyond an overload of content, Snapchat has also tried to shut down the account.

“There are some issues with Snapchat itself. I think they’re trying to crackdown on bots because there’s lots of bots that just spam or advertise to people,” Sanche said. “Every time they try to shut it down I need to fix it again so they won’t notice it.”

Sanche previously made usask-snaps, the predecessor to usask-snaps2, on Feb. 19. On Feb. 22, he made an announcement to let students know about the account on Usask Confessions, a Facebook page where U of S students can post and view anonymous comments.

Snapchat shut down the first usask-snaps account and Sanche created a usask-snaps2 to replace it. According to Sanche, the second account automatically added all of the same followers from the previous iteration. Sanche is working on finding a way to prevent Snapchat from shutting down any future accounts.

After Sanche made the original usask-snaps bot, some unknown persons created a few more bots for U of S students, including usaskgonewild, usask-hot, usaskcuddles and usaskturds. The designer of these bots made an announcement on Usask Confessions on Mar. 1 informing students of their existence and advising them to “exercise discretion” when posting photos.

Snapchat users posting to usask-hot and usaskgonewild primarily send in content of a sexual nature while the latter tends to include snaps of students’ illicit actions as well.

At time of print, the usaskcuddles and usaskturds bots appeared to have been shut down by Snapchat and were yet to be reinstated.

Naomi Zurevinski / Opinions Editor

Photo: Katherine Fedoroff / Photo Editor

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