The TikTok For You page. The Instagram Explore page. The Snapchat Discover page.
In recent years, social media platforms have developed algorithms to recommend content to users based on the posts you ‘like,’ the users you follow, and more.
In some ways, the idea of personalized, pre-determined content can be positive. Users connect with other people who have the same interests, like sports, music, fashion, or books. Although Instagram and TikTok can promote unrealistic lifestyles and heavily edited content, my algorithm has figured out that I don’t want to see those posts.
Snapchat, on the other hand, is possibly growing into one of the worst social media apps. The platform’s Discover feature is supposed to be a “news feed,” with personalized daily articles from People, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, and more. The feature could be an informative source of relevant information for Gen Z. Instead, it promotes inappropriate, sexist, and sometimes downright creepy articles to its 13+ audience.
Examples of real headlines
I made a point to screenshot my Snapchat headlines over a few weeks. I anticipated a lot of the headlines would be clickbait, but I (perhaps naively?) didn’t expect most of them to be at the expense of women— or to revolve around women’s bodies. Below, I’ve compiled the headlines that stood out most:
- Sydney’s Grandparents Are Proud of Her Chest -People
- Billie leads the worst-dressed stars at the Grammys -DailyMail
- Kourt Body Shamed As She & Travis Struggle To… -Scary Mommy
- Jack Makes Women Do This Before Spending the Night -People
- Sydney’s Family’s Perfect Reaction to Her Sex Scenes -People
- Travis Touches Kourtney in This Swimsuit Pic -Cosmopolitan
- How to do “it” virtually -Bumble
- Did Kim Use Facetune on North? -PinkNews Reports
- Leo’s addiction to young models -Mind Your Business
- From Size 24 to 8 -Superhuman
- Camila ‘Hurt’ Herself to Look Good at the Beach -People
- Kylie’s pics reignite surgery rumors -DailyMail
- Khloe: I wish I got nose job sooner -DailyMail
- Sydney Admits She Did This Nasty Thing at School -People
- MGK: “I’m Not Waiting Until She’s 18” -PinkNews Reports
Seriously, why do all of these headlines shame women’s bodies and objectify women? None of these articles are ‘news,” they’re gossip. Further, unlike TikTok and Instagram, Snapchat doesn’t have “likes” to formulate the algorithm. Snapchat knows that I identify as female, so it gave me these articles to view as a default.
Why does Snapchat think this is the content that teenage girls and young women should be (and want to be) consuming?
Male vs female discover pages
I was also curious about what my male-identifying friends’ Snapchat Discover page looked like, and asked my friends to send me screenshots. The difference was clear.
While their Discover pages also featured celebrity gossip and objectification of women, I noticed a wider variety of content. For example, articles about politics, new Marvel movies, and news in sports popped up. My Discover page contains none of this.
unsubscribing? & conclusion
Snapchat gives users the option of ‘unsubscribing’ from toxic sources. However, many of the articles that pop up on my account are from sources that I never subscribed to in the first place. So, it’s almost impossible for users to cleanse their Discover page.
If Snapchat made their platform 18+, I would have slightly less of a problem with the Discover feature. But the platform is marketed as 13+. Young, impressionable users cannot escape the overload of sensationalized information about sex, ‘ideal’ bodies, plastic surgery, and more. Even from the perspective of a 20-year-old college student, the articles are ridiculous.
When I was in middle school and high school, Snapchat was a way to send fun, in-the-moment pictures to friends and family. But the platform has evolved into something almost dangerous. Snapchat owes it to its users to shift the Discover page to more meaningful, informative content. Believe me: we’ve had enough.