Snapchat Targets Clickbait In Attempt To Woo Investors
While tech giants Google and Facebook are attempting to crack down on fake news, Snapchat is waging its own war on clickbait. The Los Angeles-based social media company has announced new guidelines for publishers in an attempt to limit violent or sexual images from Discover or Snapchat Stories covers.
According to the New York Times, last week, MTV ran a headline in Discover asking "Is this the thirstiest person on earth?", alongside a photo of a blonde woman in a bikini. Once opened, however, the story was about a man—fully clothed.
Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for Snapchat, said that the new rules hope to “empower our editorial partners to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual and safe environment for everyone.”
"We take the responsibility of being a source of news, entertainment and information for our community of more than 150 million daily active Snapchatters very seriously," a spokesperson for wrote in an email statement, reports Business Insider. "Snapchatters are curious about the world. They want to know about what’s important, not just what’s popular. They want to see and experience new things—unique stories from credible voices and varied perspectives."
In July, a class action lawsuit was brought against Snapchat—a company whose 100 million users skew as young as 13. The suit claims Snapchat's Discover “intentionally exposes minors 'to harmful, offensive, prurient and sexually offensive content without warning minors or their parents that they would be exposed to such explicit content.'”
“In this environment, every technology company that touches media is concerned about being vulnerable to connections to fake news and disinformation,” Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, told The New York Times. “That’s doubly true for a company planning for an I.P.O.”
According to Wired, that IPO—set to arrive in the next few months—is expected to be between $25 and $35 billion. The coming IPO is also heating up competition between Snap Inc. and Facebook—whose Instagram is Snapchat's main competitor. Instagram's ad revenue benefits substantially from the 1.79 billion users (and their data) already on Facebook.
“We think of the ad product as being a combination of the format and the backend that helps power the ad product,” Vishal Shah, Business and Advertising Products manager for Instagram, said. “Our underlying infrastructure is a shared backend infrastructure between Facebook and Instagram.”
And not all on Wall Street are hot on Snapchat.
"We are at the tail end of the social media boom," Trip Chowdry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, wrote in a January 22 investors note, reports CNBC. "Novelty is giving way to fatigue. Fundamental investors should avoid the IPO. Snapchat is a total junk, hyper-inflated."
For now, Snapchat is just hoping to clean up its act for investors.
“We have been collaborating closely with all of our publishers, whose content has continued to evolve,” said Nick Bell, Snapchat’s vice president for content, told the New York Times. “We want to be a great partner to all of our editorial partners, and updating our content guidelines to better reflect where our platform is today is an important part of that.”