May 11, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Snapchat to offer in-app domestic violence support

An illustration of Snapchat's ghost mascot with a white beard on a therapists' couch

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat and Twilio are both announcing new efforts Monday to provide support for people affected by domestic violence and mental health concerns in response to a swell in demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: Online services and crisis lines are being asked to shoulder a greater share of the burden of responding to people's needs at a moment when other types of direct service are harder to access.

  • Snapchat is partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence to include more resources for users dealing with domestic violence as well as those who want to support a friend who is in such a situation. The resources, part of Snapchat's broader Here For You initiative, will also be available in subtitles for those who don’t feel comfortable or safe viewing content with the sound on.
  • Twilio is announcing $2 million in cash grants for organizations that are provide support services during the pandemic via voice, text or chat. The new program builds on past grants the company has made to crisis hotlines.

Twilio, a digital phone services provider whose tech powers many of the nation's crisis hotlines, said it has seen usage by such services increase 20% since the pandemic began, with volume more than doubling at some hotlines, such as Crisis Text Line.

What they're saying:

  • Snapchat's VP of public policy Jen Stout: “Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our community. We hope these new resources will give Snapchatters and their loved ones the help and support they need to stay both physically and emotionally safe while following shelter in place and other public health guidelines.”
  • Twilio chief social impact officer Erin Reilly: "The additional impact on people from COVID, such as depression, abuse and hunger, are significant. We want to help the organizations on the front line. The people who are providing crisis support on these hotlines are some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”
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