Snapchat rolls out a redesign that separates social and media into two parts of the app.
Katie Benner | New York Times
Snapchat has long thumbed its nose at social media conventions. The messaging app initially emphasized posts that disappeared rather than remained permanent. It encouraged users to connect with just a few friends instead of many. And it prized human editing and curation instead of encouraging anybody to post anything.
On Wednesday, its parent company, Snap, continued that unconventional approach, unveiling a redesign that effectively separates social and media into two parts of the Snapchat app.
Where users of Facebook see one giant news feed of information, typically determined by what they have liked and what their friends post, Snapchat users will now see a left side of the app that includes chats and stories shared with, or by, their friends. That’s the social part. On the right side, there will be content from publishers, amateur creators, celebrities and stories that Snap curates from user-generated videos and photos. That’s the media part.
“While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves,” Evan Spiegel, Snap’s chief executive, said in a blog post about the redesign, which is to begin rolling out on Wednesday and continue through the end of the week.
The redesign is partly born of necessity. Since Snap, which is based in Venice, Calif., went public in March, its user and revenue numbers have not grown as fast as Wall Street had hoped. That is partially because of Snap’s chief rival, Facebook, which has sought to keep users from turning to Snapchat by copying some of its most popular features.
Snap’s stock has fallen below its initial public offering price, and the company remains unprofitable. Snap delivered a disappointing earnings report this month, causing its stock to plunge even further. .
Some things about Snapchat are not changing. For instance, the app still opens to the phone camera, allowing users to make and share photos and videos.
But the redesign otherwise moves Snapchat even further away from a traditional social media model.
Material shown on the app’s right side — what is now the media part — must meet content and community standards, Snap has decided, whether that material is produced by a newspaper, a television studio, the company’s in-house news and stories teams or so-called influencers. All must be vetted and approved.
By contrast, those who create content do not need to be vetted to distribute it widely on Facebook and Google. That has allowed hate speech, fake newsand disturbing videos aimed at children to proliferate on those platforms. During the presidential election last year, Russian propagandists used Facebook, Google and Twitter to spread material meant to sow division and influence the outcome of the race.