Imagine this: you’re walking down the street and pass somebody wearing a particularly nice pair of shoes. You whip out your phone, open up Snapchat and point your camera. Within seconds, the price, name and Amazon page where the shoes can be found are on your screen for you to buy.
It might sound like science fiction, but this is exactly what Snapchat featured in its promotional video released on Sept. 24. Users can scan an item or barcode, and the item and ones like it will show up along with their prices on Amazon. This partnership is rare for Snapchat and Amazon which are both powerhouses in their own fields.
However, the partnership makes sense. While the details of the deal have not yet been revealed, the new Snapchat feature alone will likely draw huge numbers to one of the world’s largest online shopping sites. Imagine being able to take a picture of someone’s outfit or asking where they got their skateboard. Just snap a picture, and you’re good to go!
It’s an exciting prospect, but one that could possibly raise questions to the level of privacy. Could this new feature discretely track every item you own increasing the frequency and accuracy of targeted ads to your favorite websites? There has been suspicion over targeted ads in the past, but are they really anything to worry about? It seems more likely than not that the new feature will only increase the quality of life for anyone able to use it giving them products to better serve their needs.
As tempting as it may seem to argue that being able to buy shoes through a camera will bring us one step closer to SkyNet, to make this argument would imply that we are not under the complete control of these corporations already. Amazon makes 35 sales every second, and Snapchat has around 190 million active members. Those are huge numbers, and they reflect in our everyday lives. We have the full range of Amazon Echo products which have the option to fully dictate every facet of our lives from nutrition to sleep, and to fill in the gaps is Snapchat’s facial recognition software.
This is not to say we are in much immediate danger; however, most of the information these companies collect is for the sake of consumer information and to make improvements in marketing. But, this places valuable information into the hands of private companies, and all we can do it trust that the company won’t sell it off to an entity with nefarious purposes.
I am still excited for the new feature and its effect on the online market. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest have rolled out similar features with limited feedback, but the feature seems to be more streamlined on a program like Snapchat where the whole app is the camera making it more accessible.
Story by Patrick Barry, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.