Back to school and prioritising online safety

Teens are young people across much of the world are heading back to school and with the global pandemic largely behind us, it appears they will be re-entering the classroom and interacting with friends and classmates with some consistency – both in person and online. So, this seems like the right time to remind families and teens to stay alert to online risks, to continue embracing sound online habits and practices and to reach out if anything on Snapchat makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Promoting safer and healthier experiences on Snapchat is a top priority for us at Snap, and nothing is more important than the security and well-being of our community. Better understanding the attitudes and behaviours of Snapchatters and those who use more traditional social media platforms is a critical part of this. 

Earlier this year, we conducted new research into various aspects of online life that contribute to overall digital well-being. We polled a total of 9,003 individuals, specifically teens (aged 13-17), young adults (ages 18-24) and parents of teens aged 13-19 in six countries (Australia, France, Germany, India, UK and the US) on the five dimensions of digital well-being. Details* and full results, including out first Digital Well-being Index for each country and across all six collectively, will be released in conjunction with the international Safer Internet Day 2023 in February. We are, however, sharing some preliminary findings in the back-to-school time frame and as our new Family Centre tools for parents and caregivers continue to roll out across the globe – all in an effort to remind families about the importance of staying safe.

Assessing online risks

To help determine whether teens and young adults are flourishing online, struggling or something in between, it's necessary to understand their degree of risk exposure. Not surprisingly, our research confirms that when online risks become more personal, exposure has a negative effect on digital well-being. 

According to our study, various forms of online bullying and harassment, including teasing, name-calling, purposeful embarrassment and “flaming”, all negatively impacted young people's digital well-being. The same can be said for encountering sexual and self-harm-related online risks like sexual exploitation or having thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

What may be surprising, however, is the apparent “normalisation” of other online risks amongst teens and young adults. Impersonating others online, spreading false or misleading information, and being exposed to unwanted or unwelcome contact are just a few risk-types that have weak correlations with digital well-being, according to the research. Perhaps even more concerning is young people's responses. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they ignore or brush off bad behaviour online – as opposed to reporting it to the relevant platform or service. They say such behaviour is “no big deal” and chalk it up to someone “just expressing an opinion”. Couple that with more than another quarter (27%), on average, that said bad actors are unlikely to face serious consequences, and 9 out of 10 respondents in this research shared a number of apathetic reasons for not reporting policy-violating conduct to online platforms and services. 

Importance of reporting

Indifference toward reporting remains a recurring theme across technology platforms, but we need to turn that tide and encourage teens and families to tell us when people may share content or behave in a way that violates our Community Guidelines. It's not only the right things to do, but it's a way of taking an active stance in helping to protect fellow Snapchatters. Indeed, reporting abusive or harmful content and behaviour – so that we can address it – helps improve the community experience for everyone. 

Snapchatters can report in-app by simply pressing and holding on a piece of content, or by filling out this webform at our Support Site. (Check out this reporting Fact Sheet to learn more.) Parents and caregivers who are using our new Family Centre tools currently available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, can do so directly in the app. Family Centre will be available in other international markets in the coming weeks and additional updates to Family Centre are planned for later this year. This will include the ability for teens to inform their parent or caregiver that they have made a report to Snapchat.

We look forward to sharing more results from our digital well-being research in the months leading up to – and on – Safer Internet Day 2023, 7 February. In the meantime, here's to heading back to school with online safety and digital well-being top of mind!

– Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap Global Head of Platform Safety

*The sample size for teens and young people was 6,002, including 4,654, who identified as using Snapchat.  A total of 6,087 respondents identified as being users of Snapchat (including parents). Questions did not focus on any one social media platform in particular and instead asked about online interactions in general.

How We Prevent the Spread of False Information on Snapchat

With the midterm elections approaching in the United States, we wanted to highlight our longstanding approach to preventing the spread of false information on Snapchat, and the steps we continue to take to build on our strong foundation of preventing the spread of false information on our platform. 

Our efforts have always started with the architecture of our platform. With Snapchat, we wanted to build something different to capture the spontaneity and fun of real-life conversations. From the beginning, we’ve built safety and privacy into the fundamental design of our platform. That’s why Snapchat opens directly to a camera, instead of a feed of content, and is focused on connecting people who are already friends in real life. We have always wanted Snapchatters to be able to express themselves and have fun with their friends – without the pressure to grow a following, gain views, or earn likes. Snapchat reflects how we normally communicate face to face, or on the phone, because digital communication on Snapchat deletes by default. Across Snapchat, we limit the ability for unmoderated content to reach a large audience. We do this by holding amplified content to a higher standard to make sure that it complies with our content guidelines. While Snapchat has evolved over the years, we have always tried to build technology that enables creativity and prioritises the safety, privacy and well-being of our community.

In addition to our foundational architecture, there are a number of key policies that help us to prevent the spread of false information on Snapchat: 

  • Our policies have long prohibited the spread of false information. Both our Community Guidelines, which apply equally to all Snapchatters, and our content guidelines, which apply to our Discover partners, prohibit spreading false information that can cause harm – including, for example, conspiracy theories, denying the existence of tragic events, unsubstantiated medical claims or undermining the integrity of civic processes. This includes sharing media that is manipulated to be misleading about real-life events (including harmful deepfakes or shallow-fakes).

  • Our approach to enforcing against content that includes false information is straightforward: we remove it. When we find content that violates our guidelines, our policy is to take it down, which immediately reduces the risk of it being shared more widely. 

  • Across our app, we don’t allow unvetted content the opportunity to ‘go viral.’ Snapchat does not offer an open newsfeed where people or publishers can broadcast false information. Our Discover platform features content from vetted media publishers, and our Spotlight platform is proactively moderated before content is eligible to reach a large audience. We offer Group Chats, which are limited in size, are not recommended by algorithms, and are not publicly discoverable on our platform if you are not a member of that Group.

  • We use human review processes to fact-check all political and advocacy ads. All political ads, including election-related ads and issue advocacy ads, must include a transparent “paid for” message that discloses the sponsoring organisation, and we provide access to information about all ads that pass our review in our Political Ads Library. In connection with U.S. elections, we partner with the nonpartisan Poynter Institute to independently fact-check political ad statements. In addition, to help mitigate the risks of foreign interference in elections, we prohibit the purchase of political ads from outside the country in which the ad will run.

  • We are committed to increasing transparency into our efforts to combat false information. Our most recent Transparency Report, which covered the second half of 2021, included several new elements, including data about our efforts to enforce against false information globally. During this period, we took action against 14,613 pieces of content and accounts for violations of our policies on false information – and we plan to provide more detailed breakdowns of these violations in our future reports. 

To build on this, ahead of the midterm elections, we have also established dedicated internal processes for information-sharing and for monitoring the effectiveness of our policies and other harm mitigation efforts, ensuring we can calibrate our approach as needed. We are also engaging actively with researchers, NGOs, and other stakeholders from across the election integrity, democracy, and information integrity communities to ensure our safeguards are responsibly anchored in the wider context of emerging trends and informed by expert perspectives.

We’re also focused on partnering with experts to promote greater information integrity. Through our Discover content platform, we focus on providing credible and accurate news coverage to our community, from publishers like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, VICE and NBC News.

We’ve also developed an expansive array of in-app resources to connect users with civic information, including about opportunities to register to vote, or even run for local office. 

Doing our part to promote a responsible information environment remains a major priority across our company, and we will continue to explore innovative approaches to reach Snapchatters where they are, while strengthening our efforts to protect Snapchat from the risks of viral false information. 

Introducing Family Centre on Snapchat

Family Center Banner Image

At Snap, we believe that our products should reflect real-life human behaviours, and how people act and relate to each other in their everyday lives. We’ve made it a point to build things differently from the beginning, with a focus on helping Snapchatters communicate with their close friends in an environment that prioritises their safety, privacy and wellbeing. 

That’s why Snapchat opens directly to a Camera, not a feed of endless content, and is focused on connecting people who are already friends in real life. We have always wanted Snapchatters to be able to genuinely express themselves and have fun with their friends in the same way they would if they were hanging out in person—without the pressure to grow a following, gain views or earn likes. 

Creating a safe and positive experience for them is critical to this mission. While we want our platform to be safe for all members of our community, we have extra protections in place for teenagers. For example, on Snapchat: 

  • By default, teens have to be mutual friends before they can start communicating with each other. 

  • Friend lists are private, and we don’t allow teens to have public profiles. 

  • And we have protections in place to make it harder for strangers to find teens. For example, teens only show up as a "suggested friend" or in search results in limited instances, like if they have mutual friends in common.

Family Center 1

Today, Snapchat is a central communications tool for young people, and as our community continues to grow, we know parents and caregivers want additional ways to help keep their teens safe. 

That’s why we’re introducing a new in-app tool called Family Centre, which will help parents get more insight into who their teens are friends with on Snapchat, and who they have been communicating with, without revealing any of the substance of those conversations. 

Family Centre is designed to reflect the way that parents engage with their teens in the real world, where parents usually know who their teens are friends with and when they are hanging out—but don’t eavesdrop on their private conversations. In the coming weeks, we will add a new feature that will allow parents to easily view new friends their teens have added.

On Family Centre, parents can also easily and confidentially report any accounts that may be concerning directly to our Trust and Safety teams, which work around the clock to help keep Snapchatters safe. We’re also equipping parents and teens with new resources to help them have constructive and open conversations about online safety.

To help develop Family Centre, we worked with families to understand the needs of both parents and teens, knowing that everyone’s approach to parenting and privacy is different. We also consulted with experts in online safety and wellbeing to incorporate their feedback and insights. Our goal was to create a set of tools designed to reflect the dynamics of real-world relationships and foster collaboration and trust between parents and teens. Learn more about how to get started with Family Centre by watching this video:

This fall, we plan on adding additional features to Family Centre, including new content controls for parents and the ability for teens to notify their parents when they report an account or a piece of content to us. While we closely moderate and curate both our content and entertainment platforms, and don’t allow unvetted content to reach a large audience on Snapchat, we know each family has different views on what content is appropriate for their teens and want to give them the option to make those personal decisions. 

Our goal is to help empower parents and teens in a way that still protects a teenager’s autonomy and privacy. We look forward to continuing to work closely with families and online safety experts to keep improving Family Centre over time. To learn more about Family Centre and about how we’re working to keep teens safe on Snapchat, check out this Parent’s Guide to Snapchat.

Update on Our Ongoing Work to Combat the U.S. Fentanyl Epidemic

Last year, as part of our ongoing efforts to understand young people’s awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and the broader epidemic of counterfeit pills, we conducted a survey of young Americans and found that nearly half (46%) rated their average stress level as 7 out of 10 or above. Nearly 9 in 10 (86%) of respondents agreed that people their age feel overwhelmed.

By now, it is well understood and documented that the U.S. is facing a significant mental health crisis among young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, 37% of high schoolers reported poor mental health, while 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. 

This era of extraordinary challenges to emotional well-being has contributed to an epidemic of young people, including teenagers, turning to illicit prescription drugs as a coping mechanism. Tragically, drug cartels are preying on young people’s search for coping mechanisms, flooding the country with cheap, counterfeit prescription pills that are frequently poisoned with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, over 40% of illicit pills tested contained potentially lethal levels of fentanyl. 

Studies show prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing form of drug abuse among teens, with as many as one in six teenagers reporting using prescription drugs to alter their moods or other purposes. Across the nation, scores of Americans, including a growing number of young Americans, are dying from fentanyl after taking what they believed were safer, legitimate prescription pills.

According to our own study, about 15% of those aged 13-24 have abused prescription medicines, one in five have thought about doing so, and 40% know someone who has done so. Eighty-four % say coping with anxiety and stress is the reason they and their peers are turning to pills.

At Snap, we have always had a zero-tolerance policy against using our platform in connection with illicit drug sales, and have focused on combating the fentanyl epidemic in three key ways: by constantly improving our technologies for proactively detecting this content and shutting down drug dealers who abuse our platform; by strengthening our support for law enforcement; and by partnering with expert organizations to educate Snapchatters directly in our app about the horrific dangers of fentanyl. You can learn more about our strategy in previous public updates here and here

It’s been a year since we launched the first steps of our ongoing in-app public awareness campaign and we wanted to provide an overview of continuing work to address this crisis from every angle:  

  • We have engaged former heads of federal drug enforcement agencies to advise us on these efforts, and work closely with experts in counternarcotics, the law enforcement community, organizations focused on raising awareness of fentanyl and counterfeit pills, and parents. 

  • To further strengthen our support for law enforcement investigations, we have heavily invested in growing our own law enforcement operations team by 74% over the last year, with many of these new team members joining from careers as prosecutors and law enforcement officials with experience in youth safety. Last October, we held our first annual Law Enforcement Summit, with more than 1,700 law enforcement officials from federal, state and local agencies participating. 

  • We are investing heavily in AI and machine learning tools to proactively detect dangerous drug activity on Snapchat, and work with experts to find illicit drug-related content across other platforms that references Snapchat, so we can find drug dealers’ accounts and take swift action to shut them down. As a result, our detection volumes have increased by more than 25% since the beginning of the year, and 90% of identified violating illicit drug content is proactively detected before any Snapchatter has the opportunity to report it.

  • When we find illicit drug dealers using our platform, we promptly ban their accounts, and take steps to block them from creating new ones. We cooperate with law enforcement investigations, including by preserving and disclosing data in response to valid legal requests. 

  • We block search results on Snapchat for drug keywords and slang, and instead show educational content from experts about the dangers of fentanyl through an in-app portal called Heads Up. Our partners include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Truth Initiative, and the SAFE Project. Since the launch of Heads Up, over 2.5 million Snapchatters have been proactively served content from these organizations. 

  • We have also added new measures to limit Snapchatters under 18 from showing up in search results or as a friend suggestion to someone else unless they have friends in common. This builds on protections we’ve long had in place that require teens to be friends with another Snapchatter in order to communicate directly.

  • We have launched several series of video advertising campaigns in our app to educate Snapchatters about fentanyl. Our first, launched last summer in partnership with Song for Charlie, was viewed over 260 million times on Snapchat. Last month, as part of National Fentanyl Awareness Day, we ran another set of in-app public service announcements, a national Lens, and filter that were viewed nearly 60 million times. 

  • Our in-house news show, Good Luck America, which is promoted on our content platform in Snapchat and is also available in Heads Up, has been covering the fentanyl crisis for more than a year through a special dedicated series, which has been viewed by more than 900,000 Snapchatters to date. 

  • As part of our larger strategy, we’re also committed to working with other platforms. We recently began a pilot program with Meta in which we are sharing patterns and signals of illicit drug-related content and activity. This signal-sharing program allows both platforms to bolster our proactive detection efforts in finding and removing illicit drug content and dealer accounts. We look forward to continuing this collaboration, with the goal of having other platforms join us as we work across industry to help combat the growing fentanyl epidemic. 

  • Last month, we announced that we’re teaming up with the Ad Council and other tech platforms, including Google and Meta, on an unprecedented public awareness campaign that will launch this summer to help both young people and parents learn more about the dangers of fentanyl. Learn more about this new campaign here.

  • As an app built for communicating with real friends, who are a critical support system for each other when dealing with mental health challenges, we continue to expand our in-app tools and resources on a range of mental health topics – a long-term and ongoing priority for us. (Learn more here and here). 

  • Additionally, we’re developing new in-app tools for parents and caregivers to give them more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting Snapchatters’ privacy. We plan to roll these new features out in the coming months.

Taken together, we believe these measures are making Snapchat an increasingly hostile environment for drug dealers and we will continue to examine how we can keep meaningfully improving our efforts, knowing dealers will always look for ways to evade our systems. 

We also recognize that this issue goes far beyond Snapchat. Ultimately, the solution to this epidemic lies in a nationwide effort to address the root causes of this crisis, including the conditions that create such profound mental health challenges for young people. We will keep working with and listening to our community on this critical topic. Our long-term goal as a society must be nothing less than a world in which far fewer young people experience mental health challenges and those that do have equitable access to appropriate services and care, rather than feeling they must turn to illicit drugs. This will require a coordinated effort between government, law enforcement, the technology sector, health care services and more, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help support this goal. 

Mental Health Awareness Month: Announcing an Industry-Wide Campaign to Combat the Nationwide Fentanyl Epidemic

Over the past year and a half, Snap has been deeply focused on doing our part to help combat the broader national fentanyl crisis, which has continued to intensify during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 100,000 people died due to drug overdose in the 12-month period ending November 2021. And according to a recent study published in JAMA, 77% of adolescent overdose deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl. 

At Snap, we have taken a holistic approach to eradicating drug dealers from our platform, strengthening our support for law enforcement investigations, and educating Snapchatters about the dangers of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. Our work has involved working closely with parents, expert organizations, and law enforcement to continue to learn how we can keep strengthening these efforts.

To help inform our in-app education efforts, last year we commissioned research from Morning Consult to better understand young people’s awareness of fentanyl, and why they are increasingly turning to prescription pills. Our research not only found that young people were significantly unaware of the extraordinary dangers of fentanyl and how pervasive it is in counterfeit prescription pills, but it brought to light the strong correlation between the larger mental health crisis and the increased use of prescription drugs. Teenagers are suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety, and as a result are experimenting with non-medical, abuse of prescription drugs as a coping strategy. 

Through all of our ongoing work, it has become clear that a larger, industry-wide approach is needed to help educate both young people and parents about the dangers of fentanyl. 

Today we’re grateful to be collaborating with the Ad Council on an unprecedented public awareness campaign launching this summer to help Americans learn about the dangers of fentanyl. Snap, along with Meta and Google, will be funding this effort. With the help of additional media partners, we will also be donating media space and developing and distributing content designed to educate both young adults and parents on this growing fentanyl crisis. 

Additionally, we’re sharing updates on our continued work to crack down on drug-related activity by improving our underlying technology to better detect drug-related content, while continuing to increase public awareness through key partnerships and in-app educational resources. 

Since our last public update in January, we have put even stronger machine learning models in place for automatically detecting drug-related text, images, and emojis. As of March 2022, more than 90% of the dangerous drug-related content that we proactively detected using these tools has been removed within minutes.

We’re also expanding our educational resources for Snapchatters by: 

  • Welcoming new partners like SAFE Project founded by Admiral James and Mary Winnefeld – working to combat the nation's catastrophic addiction epidemic  – to Heads Up, our in-app portal that distributes expert resources to Snapchatters who search for a range of drug-related search terms and slang. Since the launch of Heads Up, over 2.5 million Snapchatters have been proactively served educational content from trusted expert organizations like Song for Charlie, Shatterproof, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Truth Initiative.

  • Expanding our partnership with CADCA by collaborating with their National Advisory Youth Council to develop Heads Up resources specifically geared towards substance misuse, community engagement, and prevention advocacy.  

  • Teaming up with the Partnership to End Addiction – the nation’s leading organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery – to develop a guide focused on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of fentanyl, and provide tips for how to discuss the risks with their teens. This will be available in English and Spanish on the Partnership to End Addiction’s resource page and on Snap’s Safety Center. 

  • As part of our ongoing special Good Luck America series focused on the fentanyl crisis, in the coming weeks we will release our next episode featuring an interview with Dr. Rahul Gupta, the Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House, to help Snapchatters understand the drug-overdose epidemic and its impact on young Americans. 

In addition to these new tools and resources, we are also updating our in-app reporting flow to make it even easier for Snapchatters to report harmful content – that way, we can act even faster to protect our community. We’re doing this by reducing the number of steps it takes to submit a report, providing detailed definitions of each reporting category so it’s clear what our corresponding policies are, increasing the number of reporting categories so there’s more specificity around the type of abuse that’s taking place and closing the feedback loop by letting Snapchatters know what take we take on their reports.

In the upcoming months, we will also be rolling out our new parental tools, with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting the teen’s privacy. 

Additional Efforts to Support our Community’s Mental Health and Wellbeing 

With Mental Health Awareness Month underway, we are also announcing a slate of new partners and launching creative and educational tools to help Snapchatters look after their mental health and wellbeing, and to support their friends. We believe this is especially important given the strong correlation between mental health and young people self-medicating. These efforts include: 

  • Participating as a partner in the White House’s first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum alongside leading mental health non-profits in an effort to empower young people to drive action on mental health. 

  • Serving as a Founding Partner of Mental Health Action Day. In an effort to remind Snapchatters to take care of their own wellbeing, we will launch a new augmented reality (AR) Lens that encourages Snapchatters to take a wellness break and participate in a breathing exercise. 

  • In addition, we’re adding new partners to Here for You, our in-app mental health portal, including The Jed Foundation, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Movember, and the National Alliance for Eating Disorders.

As we roll out these additional resources, we continue to prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of our community every day. As an app built to help people communicate with their real-life friends – who we know are critical support systems for those experiencing mental health challenges – we will continue to develop innovative tools and resources to help Snapchatters to stay healthy and safe.  

Snap Partners with It’s On Us for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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In February, Snapchat partnered with It’s On Us, a national non-profit dedicated to combating campus sexual assault through awareness and prevention education programs, to announce our important new Snap Map safety feature helping friends share their real-time location. 

Together with It’s On Us, we introduced this new tool to help  Snapchatters to look out for one another while they are on the go, whether they are on their way to meet up, or on their way home at night–and already, more than three million members of our community use the feature to connect with their friends each week on average.  

This April, for Sexual Assault Awareness month, Snapchat and It’s On Us haved joined forces again to continue our community education around this important issue with new in-app resources and content, including:

  • A Lens raising awareness around this important issue, reminding Snapchatters to look out for their friends;

  • An episode of Snapchat’s original news show, Good Luck America, where our host Peter Hamby explores what’s happening around Title IX and sexual assault on U.S. college campuses today; and 

  • Map Markers on our Snap Map. These unique, tappable icons highlight a handful of active university It’s On Us chapters. Our Snap Map Markers link seamlessly back to the Lens in our Camera to make it easy for Snapchatters to share the message with their friends. 

With many in our community heading back out and about, whether they are on their way to spring break or coming back to campus, we know that this is a critical moment to raise awareness around this important issue. We’re proud to partner with It’s On Us to help Snapchatters keep each other safe.

If you or a loved one is in need of extra support at this time, please know that you are not alone. Please head to https://www.itsonus.org/ where you can find additional resources.

Apply to join our growing Safety Advisory Board!

Since 2018, members of Snap’s Safety Advisory Board (SAB) have provided critical feedback on fostering the safety and well-being of our Snapchat community, and they’ve helped us navigate some complex safety issues. Thanks to the expert advice and guidance of our SAB members and their partnership, we’ve made progress over the last four years, implementing important awareness-raising and educational efforts.

Snap remains committed to helping parents, caregivers, safety advocates, and others better understand how young people experience our platform and how we approach vital issues that impact safety and trust. However, given the ever-changing online safety landscape, we believe we have an opportunity to “reinvent” and relaunch our SAB to include new members who reflect our global community and our growth across products, including augmented reality and hardware, as well as expertise regarding newer online risks facing young people and their families. 

With those goals in mind, today we are opening applications to join our new and expanded SAB, which we hope will include members from diverse geographies and safety disciplines, including research, academia, technology and related fields. In keeping with Snap’s commitment to being victim- and survivor-informed in safety matters, we also welcome applications from those who may have experienced hardship or tragedy related to online interactions. Indeed, we are open to all applicants who have a unique perspective to share and an interest in constructively advising our ongoing safety work.     

We believe this approach to fashioning an SAB is unique among technology platforms, and we’re eager to receive applications from all corners of the globe. The application process will remain open for about two months, after which we will invite a number of experts to join our board.

In keeping with past practice and to help ensure the independence of our SAB, members will not receive compensation for their participation. Commitments will include three board meetings per year of roughly two hours each, in addition to occasional email correspondence. Those invited to join the SAB will be asked to agree to Terms of Reference, outlining expectations of board members as well as Snap’s commitments to the SAB.    

If you are interested in applying or would like to recommend someone, please complete this short application form by Friday, July 22. As advocates for online safety, we’re excited about the next chapter as we grow our network of advisors and trusted partners. Learn more and apply here!

- Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap Global Head of Platform Safety

Our Transparency Report for the Second Half of 2021

We are committed to making each of our Transparency Reports more comprehensive than the last. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly, as we know our stakeholders care as deeply about online safety and accountability as we do. As part of these ongoing efforts, we have made several additions and improvements to our latest Transparency Report, which covers the second half of 2021.

First, we are offering new detail on the amount of content we enforced against drug-related violations. We have zero tolerance for promoting illicit drugs on Snapchat and prohibit the buying or selling of illegal or regulated drugs. 

Over the past year, we have been especially focused on combating the rise of illicit drug activity as part of the larger growing fentanyl and opioid epidemic across the U.S. We take a holistic approach that includes deploying tools that proactively detect drug-related content, working with law enforcement to support their investigations, and providing in-app information and support to Snapchatters through our fentanyl-related education portal, Heads Up. Heads Up surfaces resources from expert organizations when Snapchatters search for a range of drug-related terms and their derivatives. As a result of these ongoing efforts, the vast majority of drug-related content we uncover is proactively detected by our machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, and we will continue working to eradicate drug activity from our platform

When we find activity involving the sale of dangerous drugs, we promptly ban the account, block the offender from creating new accounts on Snapchat, and have the ability to preserve content related to the account to support law enforcement investigations. During this reporting period, seven percent of all content we enforced against globally, and 10 percent of all content we enforced against in the U.S., involved drug-related violations. Globally, the median turnaround time we took action to enforce against these accounts was within 13 minutes of receiving a report.

Second, we have created a new suicide and self-harm category to share the total number of content and account reports that we received and took action on when our Trust & Safety teams determined that a Snapchatter may be in crisis. When our Trust & Safety team recognizes a Snapchatter in distress, they have the option to forward self-harm prevention and support resources, and to notify emergency response personnel where appropriate. We care deeply about the mental health and wellbeing of Snapchatters and believe we have a duty to support our community in these difficult moments. 

In addition to these new elements in our latest Transparency Report, our data shows that we saw a reduction in two key areas: Violative View Rate (VVR) and the number of accounts we enforced that attempted to spread hate speech, violence, or harm. Our current Violative View Rate is (VVR) 0.08 percent. This means that out of every 10,000 Snap and Story views on Snapchat, eight contained content that violated our Community Guidelines. This is an improvement from our last reporting cycle, during which our VVR was 0.10 percent. 

The fundamental architecture of Snapchat protects against the ability for harmful content to go viral, which removes incentives for content that appeals to people’s worst instincts, and limits concerns associated with the spread of bad content such as disinformation, hate speech, self-harm content, or extremism. In the more public parts of Snapchat, such as our Discover content platform and our Spotlight entertainment platform, we curate or pre-moderate content to ensure it complies with our guidelines before it can reach a larger audience. 

We continue to be vigilant to improve our human moderation and as a result, we have improved the median enforcement turnaround time by 25 percent for hate speech and eight percent for threats and violence or harm to 12 minutes in both categories. 

We believe it's our most important responsibility to keep our community safe on Snapchat and we are constantly strengthening our comprehensive efforts to do that. Our work here is never done, but we will continue communicating updates about our progress and we are grateful to our many partners that regularly help us improve.

Announcing New Policies for Snap’s Developer Platform

We want Snapchatters to have fun and stay safe when using our services, and that goal drives the design of our products, our policies and our platforms for third-party developers. We also focus on building technologies that support real-life human connections and communications between close friends – a principle that helps create more secure and more positive online experiences. 

We first launched our Snap Kit Developer platform to bring some of Snapchat’s most popular features to third party applications and services. From the outset, we set safety and privacy standards for all participating apps, and required that developers go through a review and approval process when they first apply to work with us so we can examine how their integration will work and their customer support operations. 

Among other things, our guidelines prohibit bullying, harassment, hate speech, threats and other types of harmful content – and we require that developers have adequate safeguards in place to protect their customers and take action on any reports of abuse. 

Last year, a lawsuit raised serious allegations about two integrated apps that included anonymous messaging features. At the time, we suspended both apps from Snap Kit, and began conducting an extensive review of the program’s standards and policies. 

As a result of this review, today we are announcing several changes to our developer platform that we believe are in the best interest of our community, and further aligned with our focus of supporting communications that reflect real-life friendships. 

Banning Anonymous Messaging 

First, we will prohibit apps that facilitate anonymous messaging from integrating with our platform. During our review, we determined that even with safeguards in place, anonymous apps pose risks for abuse that are impossible to mitigate at an acceptable level. 

While we know that most Snapchatters used these anonymous integrations in fun, engaging, and entirely appropriate ways, we believe some users might be more prone to engage in harmful behavior – such as bullying or harassment – if they have the shroud of anonymity. Under our new policy, we will not allow third-party apps to use a Snapchat integration to facilitate communication between users without registered and visible usernames and identities.

Age-Gating Friend Finding Apps to 18+ 

Our review was holistic and examined the privacy and safety of integrated apps well beyond anonymous messaging. Today we are also announcing that friend-finding apps will not be allowed unless they are age-gated and restricted to Snapchatters over 18. This change will better protect younger users and is more consistent with Snapchat’s use case – communications between close friends who already know each other. 

As a platform that works with a wide range of developers, we want to foster an ecosystem that helps apps protect user safety, privacy, and wellbeing, while unlocking product innovation for developers and helping them grow their businesses. 

We believe we can do both, and will continue to regularly evaluate our policies, monitor app compliance, and work with developers to better protect the wellbeing of our community.

Looking Out For Friends on the Snap Map

TLL

At Snap, we help friends stay connected no matter where they are, and we want to give our community even more tools to safely explore the world around them. So today, we are introducing a new safety feature for the Snap Map that will help Snapchatters look out for one another while they are on the go, whether they are on their way to meet up, or on their way home at night. 

Since 2017, Snapchatters have been able to opt in to share their location with their friends on the Snap Map, but to date the app needed to be open for their location to be updated. This new tool will give Snapchatters the option to share their real-time location with a close friend even while their app is closed. With this new buddy system, Snapchatters can throw their phone in their pocket and head out the door, feeling confident that the people they trust most are looking out for them while they're on the move.

Location sharing on the Snap Map has always been, and will continue to be, off by default, meaning that Snapchatters have to proactively opt in to share where they are. Importantly, Snapchatters can only ever share their whereabouts with their existing Snapchat friends – there is no option to broadcast their location to the wider Snapchat community. 

As a platform built for communicating with close friends, we know that location sharing can be an easy and impactful way for young people to stay connected and safe. In fact, according to feedback from our community, we know that Snapchatters feel even more connected to their friends when they see them on Snap Map, and that they are motivated to share their location with friends because they think it’s a safe and fun way to stay connected. 

We’ve built this new tool to offer Snapchatters a buddy system, and we’ve included several safety elements from the start, including:

  • A fast and clear way to activate, so Snapchatters can share their real-time location in an instant if they ever feel unsafe.

  • Limited time sharing & notification-free pausing so Snapchatters can easily turn this off when they’ve reached their destination. Plus, this minimizes any undue pressure to constantly share. 

  • Required two-way friendship meaning that only those who have mutually added each other as friends on Snapchat can share their location, keeping in line with our existing Snap Map policies. 

  • A safety notice that pops up when Snapchatters use the feature for the first time, ensuring our community knows that this is meant to be used only with close friends and family.

  • Ultra clear design so Snapchatters always understand their setting selections and who can see their location.

We are all adjusting to new ways of being out and about in the world -- especially on college campuses, where Snapchat is widely used. Many students have gone back to campus to be with their friends despite remote or hybrid learning, but with schools expecting less activity on the grounds, there may be gaps in normal security and safeguards. That's why we are launching this new tool as part of a partnership with It’s On Us, a national non-profit dedicated to combating campus sexual assault through campus awareness and prevention education programs. Starting today, a new PSA from It’s On Us will debut in our app, encouraging our community to look out for one another. 

We know many parents may have questions about how the Map works, who can see Snapchatters’ locations (if they choose to share them), and the policies and tools we have in place. So, we wanted to share more on the key safety and privacy features of the Snap Map:

  • Location Sharing is OFF by Default and Only for Friends: For all Snapchatters, location-sharing is off by default and completely optional. Snapchatters can update their location sharing preferences at any time by tapping the settings gear at the top of the Snap Map. There, they can hand select which existing friends can see their location, or hide themselves completely with ‘Ghost Mode.’ Snapchatters who do decide to share their location on the Map will only be visible to those they have selected -- we don’t give anyone the option to share their location publicly with people they have not proactively and mutually added as a friend. 

  • Education & Reminders: Snapchatters are taken through a tutorial when they use Snap Map for the first time. Here, they can learn how to opt-in for location sharing, how to select friends to share with, and how to update settings at any time. Snapchatters who choose to share their location with their friends receive periodic reminders asking them to confirm that they are still comfortable with their settings and if they are not, they can easily switch off location sharing without prompting other users.

  • Additional Privacy Safeguards: Only content that is proactively submitted to the Snap Map appears on it; Snaps between friends remain private. For Snapchatters who maintain our default privacy setting, content shown on the Map is automatically anonymized, so anyone looking at the Map cannot see the name, contact information, or exact location of the person who shared. We also protect sensitive businesses and locations on the Map.

We know that mobile location sharing is sensitive and needs to be used with caution, but we believe that with the right safeguards in place, it can be an impactful way for friends to not only stay connected, but also to help keep each other safe. We encourage you to visit our support page here for more information.