Anyone who is an avid user of Snapchat knows to expect a complete app transformation approximately every two months at this point. Overhaul after overhaul (announced as standard updates) have left users having to start from square one when it comes to figuring out the platform. The updates have left even the most tech savvy of Millennials stumped and feeling like a Baby Boomer, so when Evan Spiegel designed a massive overhaul of the app this past November, users prepared for the worst.
It is now December, and the Snapchat overhaul has occurred. Ironically, even the least Snapchat savvy have lived through this update still knowing how to use the beloved selfie app. The app change revolves around Snapchat’s decision to decisively separate interactions with your friends from the content you are reading, and have done this through putting your friends’ stories and your personal conversations on the left while leaving tailored news stories on the right. The aim of this is to make your consumption and media interests entirely separate from your social interactions with friends, followers, and family. The two interfaces are a swipe away, yet separate and distinct parts of the platform.
Spiegal commented on the decision-making that went behind the Snapchat update.
“The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media. We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.” What this really means is that content consumption will no longer be influenced by content your friends click on and share. If a person is left wing, and they have a friend who is an avid Trump supporter constantly sharing and consuming right-wing content, instead of now being targeted or privy to these shares, the targeting will now be based upon your own consumption habits, and those alone.
Another factor that makes this update particularly appealing is the fact that Snapchat has a team of media curators and editors in place to ensure false stories do not go viral. The app’s setup also makes it harder, albeit not impossible, for users to spam their followers with media stories. No one likes a Facebook political commentator, and Snapchat has added an additional layer to this commentary and sharing, while also ensuring it doesn’t impact a friend’s preferences on the backend.
Ultimately, this update could prevent the friendship fallouts we all have thanks to those who are one way in person and a practical troll online. It’s always a shame when a likeable person displays a very different side of themselves on social via avidly pushing out media stories, and Snapchat is making a push to insulate users from their unfortunate media-pushing selves. Public and private, for once, will remain public and private thanks to the latest update.