Snapchat announces changes to protect teens from strangers, drugs

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It’s a jungle out there, and in the 21st century it’s a cyber jungle we’re talking about. According to a research done by Pew Research Center back in 2018, “95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online almost constantly.”

The most popular platforms among teenagers are YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, and the companies behind these services are constantly launching new features in order to protect the youth.

Instagram, for example, introduced a slew of features back in December last year that let parents set time limits, and urge teens to “take a break.” And now it’s time for Snapchat to follow suit.

New safeguard in Snapchat’s Quick Add feature

The company announced on its official blog a couple of changes aimed to protect teens from strangers, potential harassment, and drugs. A new feature has been added to Quick Add –
Snapchat will no longer show users aged 13-17 as friend suggestions to other people, unless they have a certain number of friends in common.

“We recently added a new safeguard to Quick Add, our friend suggestion feature, to further protect 13 to 17 year olds. In order to be discoverable in Quick Add by someone else, users under 18 will need to have a certain number of friends in common with that person — further ensuring it is a friend they know in real life,” reads part of the official announcement.

Snapchat shares updates on drug-fighting initiatives

Another sensitive topic when it comes to minors is drugs. Eight teens lost their lives after overdosing on drugs allegedly bought on Snapchat during the past two years, and the company faced heavy criticism and demand to up its drug-fighting game.In the latest update Snapchat shared the progress it made with its drug-detecting algorithms, and also introduced two new partners to the Heads Up portal – Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and Truth Initiative.

“88% of drug related content we uncover is now proactively detected by our machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, with the remainder reported by our community. This is an increase of 33% since our previous update. When we find drug dealing activity, we promptly ban the account, use technology to block the offender from creating new accounts on Snapchat, and in some cases proactively refer the account to law enforcement for investigation,” wrote the company.

Snapchat is also working on new parental control features that will allow parents to monitor their children’s activity on the app. These tools have been in the making since last Fall, and according to Snapchat, they will be rolling out in the coming months.

“In the coming months, we will be sharing more details about the new parental tools we are developing, with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting their privacy.”

Snapchat started the year with a slew of new features – including Bitmoji reactions, Poll Stickers, Chat Reply, and an improved Calling interface, although they are all related to the user experience on the platform. It’s nice to see that the company is also trying to make the popular chatting app a safer place for teens.

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