Does your Snapchat need a spring clean? App launches new Friend Check Up feature that encourages users to remove strangers from their friend lists
- ‘Friend Check Up’ provides prompts for Snapchat users to purge their friend list
- It will make sure users are friends with people they still want to be connected to
- It will arrive on Android ‘in the coming weeks’ and to iOS ‘in the coming months’
A new Snapchat feature called Friend Check Up, announced for Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, will encourage users to remove strangers from their friend lists.
Friend Check Up will prompt Snapchatters to review their friend lists and make sure it’s only made up of people they still want to be connected with.
Once receiving the notification and noticing an undesirable account on their friend list, users will be able to quickly remove such accounts without notifying them.
Snap Inc, the US company behind Snapchat, said Friend Check Up is designed to improve safety and privacy on the platform.
The new feature will appear as a notification on a user’s profile and will start rolling out to Android devices ‘in the coming weeks’ and to iOS ‘in the coming months’.
Friend Check Up will prompt Snapchatters to review their Friend lists and make sure it’s made up of people they still want to be connected to. This tool will be in the form of a notification in their profile
Snap Inc said it doesn’t want to encourage its users to create connections with people and accounts they do not know just for the sake of it.
The firm acknowledged that Snapchat users are prone to deliberately boosting their friend count by adding random people – but this could lead to ‘negative experiences’.
‘People who we don’t know in real life may expose us to negative experiences, such as the spread of misinformation, harassment, or unwanted situations,’ said Snap Inc in a statement.
‘At Snapchat, we built our app with those risks very much in mind.
‘The architecture of our platform is designed to encourage connection and communication between those who are real friends, while making it much harder for strangers to find and friend Snapchatters.
‘With a quick, private, convenient process, Friend Check Up enables Snapchatters to clean up their lists and comfortably remove those who don’t need to be there or may have been added as a mistake.’
Friend Check Up will start rolling out globally for Android devices in the coming weeks, and for iOS devices in the coming months
Anyone who’s friends with someone else on Snapchat can view their Stories – the photos and videos that are posted to a user’s feed – and potentially even their location, thanks to Snap Maps, which launched in 2017.
Snap Maps allows users to see where their friends are in the world and what they were doing when they posted their most recent Snaps.
Two Snapchat users that have both added each other as friends can also Chat or contact the other directly.
Snap Inc acknowledged its responsibility during the current pandemic to make Snapchat safer – especially considering there are children who use it.
Under a new online harms bill, firms like Snap Inc, TikTok and Facebook will have a new ‘duty of care’ to protect children from cyberbullying, grooming and pornography (stock image)
Snapchat’s minimum age requirement is just 13 years old, although there are no browsable public profiles for Snapchatters under 18.
‘We have all come to realise both the importance of digital tools for staying connected to one another – especially during the pandemic – as well as some of the potential risks that these tools can create,’ said Snap Inc.
To raise awareness for Safer Internet Day, Snap Inc has also partnered with Connect Safely in the US and ChildNet in the UK on filters that will swipe up to reveal safety resources from each organisation.
Social media firms remain under scrutiny over their safety measures and protection of users, particularly younger users spending more time online during lockdown.
UK campaigners have called for greater regulation of online platforms with harsher penalties for firms who are found to not adequately protect their users.
The Government’s Online Harms legislation, designed to implement such measures, is expected before Parliament this year.
Under the legislation, tech firms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat face fines of up to 10 per cent of their turnover if they fail to protect online users from harm.
Firms that fail to remove harmful content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content could face huge fines or even have their sites blocked in the UK.
They could also be punished if they fail to prove they are doing all they can to tackle dangerous disinformation about coronavirus vaccines.
The chat app, which first launched back in 2011, has gained huge traction among younger users.
Photos, videos and text messages sent within Snapchat are ephemeral and can’t be viewed again once they have been opened by the recipient.
‘We know your trust is earned every time you use Snapchat, or any of our other products — that’s why we treat your information differently than most other tech companies,’ the app claims.
Snapchat says it will not ‘stockpile your private messages’ nor does it ‘showcase a timeline of everything you’ve ever posted’ — a comment aimed squarely at its biggest rival, Facebook.
However, the app does collect some information on its users.
· Your Smartphone: Snapchat collects information on the phone you’re using, including the make and model, operating system version, apps installed, web browser type, default language, battery level, and time zone, whether you have headphones connected, wireless network connections, mobile phone number, service provider, and signal strength.
· Your Content: Snapchat keeps some information on the content you create within the app, like custom stickers, and details on whether the recipient viewed the content.
· Your Snapchat Use: Snapchat keeps a record of how you interact with its services, such as which filters you view or apply to Snaps, which Stories you watch on Discover, whether you’re using Spectacles, or which search queries you submit. It will also record the number of messages you exchange with friends, which friends you exchange messages with the most, and whether you open the messages you’re sent, or capture a screenshot.
· Your Camera and Photos: With your permission, Snapchat will collect and use photographs and other information from your phone’s camera and photo library.
· Your Location: With your permission, Snapchat says it will collect information about your precise location using methods that include GPS, wireless networks, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and other sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compasses.
Snapchat says this information is primarily used to develop and improve its products and services.
In other cases, your data will be used to personalise the app by, among other things, suggesting friends or profile information, or customizing the content displayed in your app, like ads.
Snapchat keeps some information (like your name, phone number and email address) for as long as you hold an account with the service, while others (location information is associated with a Snap) is only kept until the Snap is opened and disappears.
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