As an expected spring IPO approaches, the social network company Snapchat ha announced measures against fake news in its aim to distinguish itself as a go-to place for real news.
Snapchat Fights Fake News
Snap, the parent company for the popular social network Snapchat, announced in a statement on Monday, Jan. 23, that it updated its guidelines for publishers, cracking down on images with no editorial value or misleading. Snapchat also published its new policy for dealing with material that violates its guidelines, pointing out that it may even allow inappropriate material in case that it is newsworthy.
Publishers will be able to decide on content they deem inappropriate for people under 18. These changes are made for Snapchat's Discover feature, where content is published by media partners like CNN or Sports Illustrated, according to CNET. As The New York Times reported, the move is part of an effort by Snapchat to cut down on outright fake news and clickbait and to make Discover a more serious news source.
According to The Verge, the update comes as Snapchat prepares for a spring initial public offering. These are steps taken by the social network in order to make the service more usable to the masses. Snapchat social media network has been once dismissed as a sexting app, but now it aims to become one of tech's emerging power players.
Since the U.S. election, the issue of fake news and the question of what social networks allow on their services has been a hot and controversial topic. The issue grew to become trendy in public debates especially after Facebook faced criticism for allowing misinformation on its site.
On the other side, Facebook has been also accused of censorship. For instance, the social network removed in September a post that included the iconic Vietnam photo "Napalm Girl." Because the photo in question features a naked child it is in clear violation of the social network's community standards. However, after a public backlash, Facebook was forced to restore the post and to declare that it should not have taken down in the first place.
When it comes to cracking down on clickbait, Snapchat isn't the only one social media network trying to discourage it. Facebook also tweaked its algorithms earlier this year, in order to filter out misleading headlines.
Snapchat's New Design
Snapchat is also rolling out a new design. The changes were first announced last week to all Android and iOS users, following a brief beta test for a small group of Android users. The new design brings a new search bar front and center. The changes are purposely designed to make it easier to start chats from anywhere in the app. The search will also show stories from friends and brands, making it easier to access them.
The app itself has gotten a visual refresh, in addition to the search bar. Snapchat is adding a card-based system for swiping between chat screens, the main camera, and Stories, as well as some new, slick animations. Snapchat is also bringing Bitmoji front and center, adding on the profile screen a new Bitmoji prompt. Assuming they've created one, the customized avatars are also used to represent friends in a search.