Introducing Friend Check-Up

We have all come to realise both the importance of digital tools for staying connected to one another – especially during the pandemic – as well as some of the potential risks that these tools can create.

One source of risk on digital platforms are the connections that can be created – sometimes at the explicit urging of the platform – with people who we don't know in real life and who may expose us to negative experiences, such as the spread of misinformation, harassment or unwanted situations.

At Snapchat, we built our app with those risks very much in mind. The architecture of our platform is designed to encourage connection and communication between those who are real friends, while making it much harder for strangers to find and make friends with Snapchatters. For example, on Snapchat:

  • There are no browsable public profiles for Snapchatters under 18.

  • By default, you can't Chat or contact someone directly unless you've both added each other as friends.

  • Many of our features are set to private by default, which helps protect Snapchatters from unknowingly sharing information, such as their location, with their friends.

  • We don't give Group chats the opportunity to 'go viral' in a way that in other settings sometimes become vectors for extremist content or recruitment. Group chats are designed to be conversations among groups of real friends, so we limit their size to 64 friends. Groups aren't searchable, recommended or surfaced anywhere else in the app outside of the Chat tab.

Today, on Safer Internet Day, we're going a step further by announcing a new feature, “Friend Check-Up”, that will prompt Snapchatters to review their friends lists and make sure it's made up of people they still want to be connected to. This simple tooltip will be given to Snapchatters as a notification in their profile. Friend Check-Up will start rolling out globally for Android devices in the coming weeks and for iOS devices in the coming months.

Friend Check-Up will serve to remind Snapchatters that over time they may have added someone to their Friends list who they may no longer want to be in touch with on our app. With a quick, private, convenient process, Friend Check-Up lets Snapchatters clean up their lists and easily remove those who don't need to be there or may have been added as a mistake.

This new feature is part of a more comprehensive campaign we kicked off last month with the goal of further integrating online safety and privacy education in Snapchat in ways that will help resonate with our mobile-first generation. In addition to in-app tools, this initiative also spans new partnerships and resources, including several we are announcing today.

To raise awareness in-app for Safer Internet Day, we are partnering with Connect Safely in the US and Childnet in the UK on filters that will swipe up to additional safety resources from each organisation. We are expanding our partnership with Crisis Text Line, who will make it even easier for Snapchatters to get support if they need it, and partnering with Shout in the UK, where we will launch a crisis text line for local Snapchatters – similar to what we offer our community in the US.

We are partnering with The Trevor Project on a series of mental health initiatives for LGBTQ youth, including new in-app resources, and partnering with MindUP, The Goldie Hawn Foundation, on an online parent course that will offer basic tools and strategies to support their teens' well-being. This course will complement an updated Parents Guide we recently released, which we collaborated on with several of those organisations.

We hope that Snapchatters find these tools helpful. And we'd like to encourage their support systems – parents, loved ones and educators – to check out our new resources and talk to their kids about the importance of viewing their friend lists.

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