We all know about hate speech and fake news and the negative impact the divisive content has had on the national dialogue in recent times. Now Snap, the company behind the popular social media platform Snapchat, has launched an intriguing redesign that leadership hopes will address the issue. They’re also betting that the change will help the platform stand out from more successful social media options and provide bottom-line corporate benefits.
Instead of just the single stream of stories and chats with which users currently interact, they now see two streams of content. The first is the familiar Facebook-equivalent newsfeed. This social stream appears on the left side of the screen, but on the right side is what’s becoming known as the media stream.
This will feature only such Snap-vetted features as content provided by Snap, professional publishers and select amateurs. Unlike Facebook and most other social media platforms, this stream won’t be available to anyone who meets the advertising cost.
As for who sees what on the media stream, Snap is using artificial intelligence technology to “learn” the content preferences of individual users, and then match human-curated content to reflect user preferences.
Disappointing Earnings Picture
The changes aren’t just about providing a less tawdry and more relatable and honest user experience. It’s also a key financial decision. Something has to change for the company.
Snapchat user numbers haven’t grown as expected by analysts and the company still hasn’t turned a profit. The corporate parent’s latest earnings report was disappointing and its stock price has dropped alarmingly below its initial public offering.
It’s no wonder. It keeps finding itself dragged into the huge shadow of the behemoth Facebook, which continues to better adopt features introduced by Snapchat.
So this twin-stream social and media approach is supposed to serve as a major point of differentiation between the two companies — and at a time when platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been rebuked for the ease with which fake news has found an audience on their platforms.
What Won’t Change
It should be noted that the structural shift won’t impact the way Snapchat users traditionally interact. They’ll still be able to use their smartphone cameras to make and post videos and photos on the site as before. It’s only the vetted content they’ll see on the parallel media stream that will be different.
Snap is hoping that the redesign will provide Snapchat users with a richer and more pleasing experience, and one devoid of hate speech, fake news and other troubling content.
The company’s shareholders are certainly hoping that’s the case as well.