‘Murray.snaps’ posts illegal activity under anonymity

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Story by Taylor InmanStaff writer

On Friday nights, it’s pictures of nudity and drinking; on Saturday nights, it’s pictures of people snorting cocaine. This isn’t a television show or a scene from a big city, but things happening on the local Snapchat account “murray.snaps,” where people can post whatever picture or video they desire, with the comforting notion that it is “temporary.”

The account has garnered negative attention from locals in recent months, with word-of-mouth accounts of pictures being posted without permission. And the heavy drug use has the law enforcement carefully monitoring what’s posted.

Calloway County Sheriff Sam Steger said the sheriff’s department has deputies looking at the Snapchat account whenever they can.

“We use sites like that to assist us in identifying drug users,” Steger said. “You can’t tell if one person is posting ten pictures of the drugs or if there are ten different users.”

The threat of being caught has people on the account hiding their faces and surroundings in pictures where illegal substances can be seen. But there are still people who post these things that bypass the danger of being caught to satisfy what Murray State psychology professor Sean Rife calls “a form of exhibitionism.”

“People have a desire to be known, to be seen,” Rife said. “It’s a way to gain notoriety while controlling how anonymous they are.”

The decision to stay anonymous is found among many of the pictures that are posted on the account, but the account itself can’t escape from being banned, as a picture was uploaded last week with the warning and a backup account to add called “murray_snaps.”

Although the account has its fame among the students of Murray State, it has also reached the local high schools. The nudity seen on the account could be from someone who is 30 or someone who is 15, and Sheriff Steger said law enforcement considers it a crime just like any other.

“It is illegal for someone to post nudes underage; we treat it like any other crime,” Steger said. “We try to take whatever steps to find them, whether it’s themselves posting the pictures or somebody else.”

Calloway County High School Principal Randy McCallon said the administration and staff at the school do whatever is necessary to warn students of these dangers.

“We’re all aware of social media,” McCallon said. “It’s a continual thing through the year, it’s in our student handbook and we talk about it at orientation.”

McCallon said the real threat happens when students are at home and not at school.

“Parents need to be diligent on the weekends; we can’t be at home with them,” McCallon said. “There are no monitors, often parents don’t know what their child is posting on there, and there are so many different tools to do that.”

Rife said that often the problem is that the users of the account are just that: underage.

“Most of them are underaged. Young people have an impaired ability to make those decisions,” Rife said. “That’s why we allocate certain rights to adults because older people can make better judgments.”

And is the account just a sign of what technology is doing to our generation? Rife said no. 

“My view is that this isn’t categorically new. Young people have been making fools of themselves for generations,” Rife said. “New technology doesn’t make people make more stupid decisions. It just makes their decisions easier to see.”

Murray.snaps is still currently running under the same account name and has yet to see any bans.

“There is a perception that Snapchat is temporary,” Rife said.

But temporary can turn into forever with just one simple screenshot.