Helping Snapchatters Communicate Safely with Their Real Friends

January 17, 2024

From the beginning, we designed Snapchat to be different from traditional social media to help people connect with close friends and family without many of the pressures they felt on other platforms. Most teens use Snapchat as a messaging service to talk with small circles of friends, rather than a place to build large networks of loose acquaintances or share ideas with huge groups of people. For example, in the US the majority of teen Snapchatters communicate with just five friends.

Our goal is to provide a healthy and safe environment for all Snapchatters – and especially the youngest members of our community ages 13-17. Our approach to safety and privacy starts with the unique design of our platform and includes extra safeguards for teen Snapchatters. 

As online risks continue to evolve, we are constantly reviewing and strengthening these protections, which include:

  • Safeguards against unwanted contact. When a teen is communicating with another person on Snapchat, we want it to be someone they actually know, so we make it difficult for them to be discovered by a stranger. To do this we:

    • Require two people to accept each other as friends or already be existing phone contacts before they can begin directly communicating.

    • Prevent teens from randomly appearing in Search results to another person unless they have friends or contacts in common. 

    • Show teens a pop-up warning if someone who doesn’t share mutual friends tries to chat with them.

  • Restricting public social comparison features. Snapchat exists to help people feel comfortable expressing who they really are with their real friends, similar to the way they interact in real life. It’s why Snapchat doesn’t open to an endless feed, and messages delete by default to mimic the way people talk in person or on the phone. In addition, we:

    • Don’t offer public comments or likes when you communicate with your friends.

    • Don’t recommend public groups, which reduces the risk of accidentally coming across harmful behaviors.

    • Don’t offer public friend lists.

  • Robust moderation of content. We have strict rules about what can be posted or amplified on Snapchat. For example, before content can reach a large audience on Spotlight, it goes through human and automated review. We don’t offer live-streaming on the app, and we don’t program our algorithms to favor the spread of misinformation or harmful content. To help protect teens from being exposed to inappropriate public content we also:

    • Remove content that violates our policies

    • Filter out suggestive and sensitive content for teens. 

    • Allow parents to set even stricter content controls for their teens using our Family Center tools.

  • Taking quick action to support Snapchatters. We offer simple tools that allow any Snapchatter to quickly block another account and report concerning content or accounts to us. We have a global team that works around the clock to review each report we get and take quick action. In addition, it’s important to know that:

    • While conversations on Snapchat delete by default, we are often still able to retain data and support law enforcement investigations. For example, when we remove content involving illegal behavior, we retain it for an extended period of time.

    • Reporting is really important – it allows us to quickly review concerning content. If we find it violates our policies, we will remove it. You don’t need to have a Snapchat account to send us a report — we offer online tools anyone, including parents, can use. 

    • In cases where someone’s life may be at risk, we will proactively escalate the incident to law enforcement.  

  • Tools and resources for parents. Just like Snapchat was designed to support real-world human behaviors, we offer in-app tools for parents that we built to reflect the way parents are used to having conversations about safety in real life. Our Family Center allows parents to:

    • See who their teens are friends with and how often they are talking, but not the actual messages of their conversations.

    • Report another Snapchatter they may be worried about, directly through these tools.

    • See their teens’ privacy and safety settings. 

We all live a significant part of our lives online now, and we want to help both teens and parents be aware of online threats and feel prepared to deal with them. Our work here will never be done, and we are grateful to the many experts, safety groups, and parents who will continue to inform our protections, tools, and resources.

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