The New Snapchat

Being on Snapchat for the past few days has been a strange experience for me. Although most people my age would agree because of the general disgust with the updated look that was recently released, my experience has been more linked to the news section of the app, specifically in regards to the recent Florida shooting. In 2015 Snapchat introduced its Discover Feature: “the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first,” which features different stories from groups such as The New York Times, People Magazine, and National Geographic. Often complete with articles, videos, and other interesting tidbits, the Discover section allows readers to stay connected to prevalent news and media companies relevant today.

via: TechCrunch

Related: What Comes after the March

Following the shooting that occurred on Wednesday, February 14 that left 17 dead and many others injured, the Discover page blew up with articles about the shooter, the victims, and how the tragedy came to pass from every news source from The Washington Post to Teen Vogue. The shocking part of this for me, however, wasn’t that a magazine geared towards young girls about fashion and celebrities was reporting on a shooting. It was seeing the stories about those who lost their lives juxtaposed next to article about Kylie Jenner’s baby, or how great this celebrities curves were. It was extremely shocking to see mass murder residing next to typical gossip bits that push unrealistic beauty standards upon girls at an alarming rate.

This confusing jumble of signals to my brain was overwhelming at first and raised a lot of questions for me. Would I have preferred to see a page of only hard-hitting news about death or other depressing topics that often headline every day? Probably not. But somehow it would feel worse to only see fluffy, shallow clickbait pieces that completely ignored such a devastating and intentional act. Seeing the two together, it is a hard feeling to describe.

According to Business Insider, 158 million people use Snapchat daily and “on average, open the app 18 times a day.” They estimate that this is the equivalent to 25 to 30 minutes each day. That is immense power. This power can’t be ignored when considering the broad demographics of those using Snapchat every day. A group with such influence needs to seriously consider the content that they’re putting out when it has the potential to reach such wide audiences. And while many would argue that the politicization of social media in such a way is wrong, we can clearly see that the role that social media is playing in politics is, and has been, evolving significantly over the last few years. Trump’s tweets are evidence of this, and many victims of Wednesday’s shooting have already taken to Twitter calling for legislation changes. As The Atlantic so astutely put it: “These assorted Florida teenagers knew the contours of the gun debate so well that they were rebutting NRA talking points just after emerging from their safe zones . . . Their calls for action may not lead to any imminent change in policy. But they have given the country a striking symbol of what—and who—we’re really talking about when we have these debates. And they will not be the last victims to face a loaded assault rifle and think: This is preventable. I must politicize this.”

via: Youtube

Snapchat Discover “ads” start at $50,000 as a daily rate. They used to be as expensive as $750,000 for a single day. A third of the Discover stories on any given day are about the Kardashians. So much of what we consume on this app is egocentric and pushes beauty standards, sex, or partying. When such an immense tool exists at their hands to reach the public in a way that is meaningful and will generate important conversation, such as that on gun violence, we cannot ignore the price of such information. We cannot keep ignoring the price our children pay with their blood. It is time for Snapchat to start thinking meaningfully about the articles they run and putting more thought into how they can use their global hold to achieve valuable change.