Snap Crackdown Pop

‘Cult-Like Language’: Snapchat Threatens Crackdown, Jailtime for Leakers

After a Daily Beast investigation revealed internal metrics, Snap Inc. said it would ‘pursue any and all legal remedies’ against leakers, even threatening them with jail.

Illustration/Kelly Caminero

Snapchat has been threatening those who leak information about the company with lawsuits and even jail time.

The company sent out the threats via a letter to employees, obtained by Cheddar, in response to leaked metrics and an investigation into company culture published by The Daily Beast last week.

“If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you,” Michael O’Sullivan, general counsel for Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc., said in the memo.

“And that’s just the start. You can face personal financial liability even if you yourself did not benefit from the leaked information. The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail.”

One former employee, who asked to remain anonymous, blasted leadership’s “cult-like language” in response to the Snap’s legal threats on Friday.

“Snap was known for using scare tactics pretty much all the time,” one former employee told The Daily Beast about its reaction to leaks.

“Any time there was a leak, [Snap CEO] Evan [Spiegel] would send out a whole email to the company explaining how disappointed he was. It was like cult-language, like ‘We’re so disappointed that someone ruined this for everyone.’”

Snapchat is notoriously secretive about its internal operations.

As The Daily Beast previously reported, the company goes through extensive measures to ensure that employees don’t reveal information to the outside world by restricting guests at its offices and even blocking use of its own app.

At the company’s lavish $4 million New Year’s Eve bash, guests were forced to have the cameras on their phone taped over before entering.

“Evan is paranoid and they go ballistic when there’s a leak,” a former employee previously told The Daily Beast.

It may be hard for Snapchat to stifle criticism however, as more shakeups at the company occur. Snapchat laid off two dozen employees across its design, content, and partnerships division on Thursday.

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The layoffs were unrelated to the leak, but speak to the volatile nature of the company. One current employee had described working there as “running sprints back and forth based on what Evan tells us.”

The company carried out the layoffs on the fourth floor of its New York office in a conference room called “Lit.”

Snapchat has had a roller-coaster year. Prior to its hotly anticipated IPO in March 2017, the company was viewed as a hip, growing tech company.

Located outside of Silicon Valley in scattered offices around Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, the company had a reputation as a fun and creative place for young techies.

Spiegel famously turned down a $3 billion buyout from Facebook, and the company was cementing its place as a formidable competitor in the social-media space.

Since the IPO however, the company has struggled to grow its user base and keep investors happy. Instagram has launched several competing features that many analysts believe have contributed to Snapchat’s stunted growth.

Its stock price declined from a high of $27.09 a share shortly after going public to $13.87 per share on Jan. 19 and the company reported a loss of $443 million just in the last quarter of 2017.