Jun 16, 2022 - Technology

Snapchat testing replies in Spotlight

(Photo illustration by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Snapchat is launching a new feature that allows users to reply directly to creators' videos in Spotlight — its TikTok-like video feed — as a way of commenting on videos, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Commenting has become one of the most requested features on Spotlight since Snapchat launched the product in November 2020. Competitive video features, like TikTok and Instagram Reels, have comments.

Yes, but: "Spotlight Replies," as the feature is called, will be different from competitors in that they won't be public by default, a spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

  • Similar to the replies feature in its Stories product, a vertical video feed from professional creators, replies will only public if the creator wants them to be.
  • The creator will have the ability to decide which replies are public, and can reject or accept comments in batches to make public.

Details: The new reply feature will be tested in New Zealand beginning Thursday, before eventually being rolled out globally to all Snapchat users.

  • Audiences can leave text-only replies in response to videos from Spotlight creators. Links are not allowed in replies.
  • Replies will be moderated by Snapchat's artificial intelligence systems first before they are sent directly to the creator, to weed out any blatant hateful or violent messaging. From there, the creators are able to decide which replies appear publicly on their video for other viewers to see.

The big picture: Snapchat's focus on content moderation and safety has helped the tech giant avoid some of the scrutiny its Big Tech peers have faced when it comes to issues like misinformation, harassment and bullying.

  • Snapchat has long been very careful to control public comments. For example, the platform still doesn't allow public comments or replies on friends’ Stories.
  • Other companies are testing ways to limit harassment on comments given how comments can be used to bully creators and manipulate algorithms. Facebook, for example, let users limit commenting to a small circle of friends last year.

What's next: Testing for Spotlight Replies will expand to more markets over the next several months.

  • The company is currently experimenting with ways to make the feature more useful. For example, other platforms prioritize showing public comments, in this case replies, algorithmically by very popular followers, like celebrities.
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