Snap bans anonymous messaging, sets age limit to friend-finding apps

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Snapchat is one of the platforms that has always been in hot water due to the countless issues. Just in May 2021, it was sued by the mother of an Oregon teen who committed suicide due to bullying that was said to root from the messages sent through the anonymous Snapchat-integrated messaging apps Yolo and LMK. The two apps were suspended the day after that, and the parent company Snap swore to review its policies. On March 18 of this year, it announced the changes: banning anonymous messaging apps and setting up age restrictions (18 and above) on friend-finding apps.

Snap said that the policy changes are effective immediately to all the developers building third-party apps on its platform. At the same time, it also mentioned that the apps affected have 30 days to comply. According to Snap, these changes will cover over 1,500 developers. From all the integrated apps on the platform, the number constitutes 2% anonymous messaging app developers and 3% friend-finding app developers. 

“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 well-being while unlocking product innovation for developers and helping them grow their businesses,” a Snap spokesperson said. “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 well-being of our community.”

Snap said that the developers’ apps will undergo an evaluation to answer crucial questions regarding the changes that need to be observed and to demonstrate any possible integrations. Moreover, Snap stated that the developers who need to remove their anonymous messaging from their apps will have the chance to have their apps be re-reviewed and remain as Snap Kit partners. And to assure that the policies are observed in the future, the social media company promised to perform reviews every six months on all the apps. 

On the other hand, while the new changes introduced by Snap seem promising, the company is still under pressure about the other sections of its platform since it is rated 13+. It gives it access to a lot of young users who often misuse the apps, leading to problems. This lack of an efficient age verification system put the company in lots of issues, causing it to be exploited by sex predators and be branded as “Tinder for teens.”

With this, Snap pushes to build a safer environment for users. Aside from hiring its first head of platform safety in September, it is now managing a project to produce parental control tools within this year. Nevertheless, Snap still hasn’t released any detail about the tools or the basic functions they are about to offer. 

“We want to help provide ways for parents and teens to partner together to ensure their safety and well-being online — similar to the ways parents help prepare their kids in real life,” a Snap spokesperson said. “We hope that these new tools will serve as a conversation starter between parents and their teens about how to be safe online.”