05 kwietnia 2024
05 kwietnia 2024

Best Friends, Streaks, and the Solar System

Over the past week, we’ve listened to concerns about the Best Friends, Streaks, and Solar System features on Snapchat. While there may have been some confusion about how the features work, what is undoubtedly clear is that there are concerns about the impact these features have on our community’s well-being. We want to explain how these features work, why we built them, and what we plan to do going forward.

Best Friends is a private feature that shows people who they talk to most frequently over a rolling time period. It’s a convenient feature because on Snapchat people typically spend most of their time talking to a small group of friends, even if they have a larger number of contacts on our service. By putting the friends you communicate with most frequently at the top of your contact list, they are easier to find when you want to send a Snap. We also use emojis to denote those friendships by adding a heart or a smiley face to make those people easier to find in your chat inbox. These emojis are not visible to others.

Streaks are a private representation of how many consecutive days you’ve sent a Snap back and forth with one of your friends on Snapchat. People enjoy maintaining Streaks as a fun reminder to stay in touch with people that they care about. Over the years, we’ve received heartwarming notes from people who have reflected on the ways that Streaks have supported their friendships across the world and across time zones, through the good and the bad. When we received feedback from our community that they sometimes felt pressure to respond to a Snap to maintain their Streak, we made it easier to quickly restore lost Streaks.

The Solar System is an optional, private feature that is only available with a Snapchat+ subscription and is used by less than 0.25% of our community each day, on average. It illustrates how frequently one of your friends communicates with you by showing your friend as the Sun and your Bitmoji avatar on a planet in our solar system. It does not show any other friends, it is not a numerical ranking, and it is not visible to anyone else. We built the Solar System because we received feedback from the Snapchat community that they 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.

We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Snapchat+ subscribers who use the Solar System feature, but we understand that even though it can feel good to know you are close to someone, it can also feel bad to know that you aren’t as close to a friend as you’d like to be. We’ve heard and understand that the Solar System can make that feeling worse, and we want to avoid that.

We’re going to turn the Solar System feature off by default so that Snapchat+ subscribers who want more friendship insights can proactively turn it on, and 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. We will also take the time to further evaluate the feature and determine if there are additional ways that we could improve it for our community.

It is very clear that we are at an important moment of reckoning when it comes to the impact of smartphone technology. We believe there are countless benefits to being able to stay in touch and build relationships online with our friends when we are physically separated from them, and we are committed to mitigating the potential downsides of online communication wherever possible. 

We built Snapchat to make online conversations feel more similar to real-world ones. That’s why people express themselves visually through Snaps, because a picture says a thousand words. We delete messages by default, to help people feel more comfortable like a face-to-face conversation. We don’t have public friend lists or public likes so that Snapchat doesn’t feel like a public popularity contest. We moderate content so that people aren’t exposed to things they don’t want to see.

We believe that these design choices are the reason why people tell us that Snapchat makes them feel more happy, connected, and creative when using the service compared to traditional social media.1 We also believe it’s why Snapchat is ranked as the number one happiest platform.2

We are deeply committed to making a positive impact with our service. Snapchat is designed to facilitate close friendships, support them, and celebrate them. We hope these changes are a step in the right direction, and we will continue to listen to feedback from our community as we evolve our service.

Happy Snapping,

Team Snapchat

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1 Source: 2023 Alter Agents study. Commissioned by Snap Inc.
2 Source: Wakefield, J.R.H., Sani, F., Madhok, V. et al. The Relationship Between Group Identification and Satisfaction with Life in a Cross-Cultural Community Sample. J Happiness Stud 18, 785–807 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9735-z; 2021 Goodques Path to Purchase study commissioned by Snap Inc.