Apr 6, 2024 - Business

Snapchat makes changes to new ranking feature after parent concerns


Credit: Snap Inc.

Snapchat on Friday said it would turn off a friends-ranking feature within its Snapchat+ subscription product by default for new users, following complaints from parents about the possible social anxieties it may cause.

Why it matters: Snapchat said it got positive feedback about its "Solar System" feature from users, showing a possible disconnect between how teens and their parents view social risks online.

  • The company is still taking action to address the default because of its commitment to safety and mental wellbeing, Snapchat said.

Catch up quick: The company's "Solar System" feature has always been optional for those who pay for a Snapchat+ subscription, but it was previously turned on by default.

  • The private feature shows how frequently a user's friend communicates with them by showing that friend as the Sun in a graphic of our solar system, and the user's avatar on a planet.
  • That ranking is not visible to other friends, and it is not a numerical ranking, Snap said.

Details: Moving forward, subscribers who want more friendship insights can proactively turn the Solar System feature on, Snapchat wrote in a blog post. Those who don't, "will never have to see it."

  • "We hope this strikes the right balance between providing a feature that is desired by many who use it while avoiding upsetting those who don't want to use it," Snap wrote.
  • The company said it built the feature after receiving feedback from users who wanted to know more about their friendships.
  • "Online conversations often lack the same context and social signals found during in-person conversations, and features like the Solar System help provide additional awareness and context," Snap wrote.

Between the lines: The company's free product also includes several features that help users understand the dynamics of their friendships online, including rankings of "Best Friends," those frequently communicated with and "Streaks," which track how consistently Snapchat friends communicate.

  • It detailed how those features work in a blog post to avoid confusion about their functions, which Snap said could be driving parent concerns.

The big picture: Snap argues features that aim to illustrate the closeness of online friends make online conversation dynamics feel more similar to real-world ones.

  • Some of those features, like Streaks, also help to gamify the platform to encourage consistent usage.
  • Snap says it's been intentional about keeping friends-ranking features and lists private "so that Snapchat doesn't feel like a public popularity contest."

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