Doing our Part to Tackle Online Hate

We are saddened and appalled by the racist abuse that has been directed at England footballers on several online platforms following the Euro 2020 final. We wanted to give an overview of our ongoing work to combat racism, hate speech, harassment and abuse on Snapchat, as well as the steps we are taking to educate our community.

We have put a lot of work into designing a platform that prevents the opportunity for hate speech or abuse to spread. Snapchat is designed differently than traditional social media. The app is designed around the camera to create a way for people to communicate more meaningfully and authentically, and with their real friends and loved ones, rather than people that they don’t know. 

Snapchat does not offer an open news feed where unvetted publishers or individuals have an opportunity to broadcast hate or abusive content. Our Discover platform  for news and entertainment, and our Spotlight platform  for the community’s best Snaps, are curated and moderated environments. This means that content in Discover or Spotlight is provided either by our professional media partners, who agree to abide by strict Content Guidelines, or is user-generated content that is pre-moderated using human review, prior to being surfaced to large groups of Snapchatters. And Snapchat does not enable public comments which can facilitate abuse.

We have also made clear that we will not promote accounts that are linked to people who incite racism, whether they do so on or off our platform, most notably when first taking the decision to stop promoting President Trump’s account on Discover in June of 2020.

These guardrails help keep activity that violates our policies  from public areas of our platform. In 2018, Snap signed onto the European Commission’s Code of Conduct on hate speech, which, as part of its oversight process, collects reports from 39 NGOs specializing in reporting online hate. In the Commission’s two most recent reports on compliance with the code, there were zero reports of hate speech on Snapchat. Our own transparency report shows that, for the UK during the latest six month reporting period, we took action against 6,734 accounts. The vast majority of this content concerned reported private Snaps, not on public content areas -- reducing any wider impact. 

We also work hard to combat illegal and harmful activity on the private communications side of Snapchat. We provide easy-to-use in-app reporting tools where Snapchatters can notify us about any illegal or harmful activity. Our global, 24/7 Trust & Safety team reviews reports and takes appropriate action against violating accounts. The team is trained to identify a variety of signals when it comes to racist language, including the use of emojis to represent racial slurs or stereotypes. We keep abreast of the use of emojis and other forms of expression such as text based captions to understand emerging trends that reflect potential abuse, and use this insight to constantly evolve our policies in this area.

There is of course more that we can do, including to educate our community, and we are currently working on a programme to elevate black British stories through the power of augmented reality. Our first initiative earlier this year was an augmented reality (AR) experience designed in partnership with Kick It Out and a collective of black creatives called Kugali to commemorate four of England's greatest black footballers.

Ultimately, there is no place on Snapchat for discrimination, racism or abuse. We will keep working hard to prevent this content from surfacing, and to take quick and effective action when it does occur.

-Henry Turnbull, Head of Public Policy UK & Nordics