Snapchat has over 100 million active users that produce over 7 billion videos daily. Snapchat members range from the White House to all the Kardashian sisters.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter display permanent static stories. The creators of Snapchat, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel, challenged this norm. They wanted their new medium to mimic interactions in everyday life. Photos and videos only last for a limited amount of time before they disappear to make way for new content.
The Snapchat medium resonates with a younger demographic that is hungry for the latest, most up-to-date content. With Facebook become increasingly popular with an older demographic that began using it when they themselves were in college, the newest generation of teenagers wants a venue for themselves.
Thankfully neither of my parents uses Facebook frequently, but I have friends whose parents contently post embarrassing pictures of them or comment on their friend’s Facebook pages. Snapchat offers a new, parent-free venue.
Just one year after Snapchat’s launch in September 2011, they were already receiving offers from Facebook to buy them out for a cool $1 billion. This offer later increased to $3 billion but was still denied. The creators knew they had something revolutionary on their hands.
Now Facebook and Instagram are copying Snapchat’s “My Story” feature. This allows users to post repayable content that is available for 24 hours.
Snapchat has had a meteoric rise in popularity in the past years. However, they have had a few setbacks. One of their filters displays the speed the user is traveling in miles per hour. This seems to encourage people to use the app while driving, which is extremely dangerous. They have since included the disclaimer that it is not safe to snap and drive. I still get snaps from my friends while they’re driving.
There are also privacy concerns. While content is only available for a limited amount of time, users can take screenshots of photos. Once they have the screen shot, they are free to use the content however they wish. Young people tend to overshare and are not aware of the consequences a compromising snap can have. Their permission is not required to share the photo, and their content could end up being used against their wishes. Legally, there is not a whole lot they can do to control the life of their content. The app does alert you when someone takes a screenshot, but all you can do it ask that person not to distribute it.
Journalists can use Snapchat to tell stories in real time. They can personalize their content to cater to their audience. Both BBC and CBS generate live stories from the scene of events. It is apparent that journalists must meet their audience where they are, instead of waiting for them to seek out content on their own.
Social Media has changed the way people receive their news. Journalists must push their content out on strategic platforms to reach a broad audience. Users, especially younger people, want their news to come to them. They do not go to CNN’s website to find out about breaking news. They scroll through their Stories on Snapchat. Breaking news exists alongside their friends’ videos from a music festival.