Snapchat's Update from Hell

Snapchat’s recent release of their 2018 update has spurred seemingly endless controversy over their design choices. Although they hoped to appeal to a broader demographic and shift engagement on the platform, this update has reversed many of the positive features for Snapchat’s existing user base. With almost every technological change, disapproving users will share their complaints online, but their intentions do not usually extend much beyond sharing those thoughts. Snapchat has managed to release an update so horrible that users are actively revolting against it on other social media platforms.

What did Snapchat change? First, they separated all friend content from news content featured on the Discover page. Although it seems sensible to condense relating content, this design choice isolates the Discover page, giving users have less of an incentive to visit that portion of the app, and creates a very clustered and confusing Friends side. The sort order appears to change constantly and is mostly random, with their algorithms potentially considering recent activity or most engaging friends. The new update has eliminated a way for users to scroll alphabetically through their friends, and there is no longer a straightforward list of their friends’ stories. Stories seem to appear in no time-related order, and even once users manage to find the story they’re looking for, they have to click on a tiny circle in order to watch it. Additionally, the auto-play feature has been removed, so users must continue to click in order to view each story. Essentially, this update has made Snapchat much harder to use, with many of the new features reversing previous purposes and discouraging engagement.

Users have not been shy about voicing their opinions on this terrible new update. On February 9, I came across a Twitter page called Fix Snapchat (@FixSnapNow), which was created with the purpose to reach out to Snapchat and offer a proposition in favor of those opposed to the new update. As shown in this screenshot, Fix Snapchat suggested that users be given the option to return to the previous format. Snapchat agreed to consider if their post received 50,000 retweets, which would validate that a majority of users prefer the old layout. This screenshot has now received over 70k retweets and 16k likes, but Snapchat has yet to acknowledge their end of the deal.

Another angry user Nic Rumsey started a petition that asked people to electronically endorse a document aiming to “convince Snap Inc. to change the app back to the basics”. This petition has already received around 450,000 out of 500,0000 signatures. A link to sign can be accessed here:

Since the release of their 2018 update, Snapchat users have aggressively voiced their complaints on other social media platforms, hoping that their obvious dismay will motivate Snapchat to return to their previous layout. Although I recognize that it is common for people to reject change because they are comfortable with old formats, I do not believe that this is one of those cases. Snapchat’s App Store rating has decreased from five stars to a mere two stars because of this dilemma, and I do not realistically see users accommodating to these design flaws. Snapchat needs to recognize their mistakes and fix them before their user engagement and app popularity completely plummets.


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