What Snapchat Fails to Reveal
It goes without saying that social media networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, are immensely popular in our world today, and global usage of these networks are rapidly increasing. According to Statista, 71% of internet users were active on social media in 2017, and these rates are expected to grow. Social media platforms certainly have their benefits, including the opportunity to communicate with others, display creativity with photos, and so on. However, some social media platforms also come with dismal consequences. One such platform is Snapchat and its ‘Discover’ page on which ‘stories’ are featured. The problem is that some topics do not hold as much significance as others, yet are prioritized on the page.
This is a severely negative aspect of the app considering there are many world issues that deserve our attention. Social media users are adversely impacted in that they are prevented from learning about important issues that may impact them or to which they can relate. Considering this, Snapchat is not a reliable source to understand what is taking place around the world.
I remember scrolling through Snapchat’s Discover page one day and viewing stories on how Kylie Jenner managed to put on a tight dress. As I continued scrolling, I uncovered horrific videos about the destruction Hurricane Michael had caused in Florida. The fact that the story about Jenner was placed above the natural disaster was shocking and disappointing.
Jenner and her dress struggles are not a serious, wide-ranging concern, yet seems to hold more value since it appeared before the tragic hurricane on the page. If I had not scrolled down, I would not have been informed about the hurricane and the circumstances surrounding it.
The feature on Hurricane Michael should have had tremendous priority over unimportant celebrity news. It was a major event that destroyed the environment, devastated communities, and took the lives of many. I refreshed the page and had a difficult time finding the feature, only to notice that it had been placed even lower than where I had found it before.
Even worse is that some issues fail to even make it onto Snapchat. There was a story that surfaced on Twitter and Facebook three years ago about a human rights defender named Surat Singh Khalsa. Khalsa went on a hunger strike to raise awareness about Sikh political prisoners that were not being released from jail after completing their terms. During his strike, many prisoners were released and some obtained a parole; it was successful in that sense.
This story, however, was never featured on Snapchat’s Discover page, and it is a shame that users were not notified. It projects a positive message of hope and shows the extremes people suffer to achieve their goals. SikhNet, a website regarding information about the issue, argues that Khalsa’s story should be promoted on social media and that the struggle should be recognized frequently. Surely, many would agree.
The number of individuals that use Snapchat have decreased by 73%, one possible cause being that an update that redesigned the stories feature. This prevented some stories from appearing, understandably frustrating users and driving them to quit the app for good. Importantly, this demonstrates that the stories feature no longer has the appeal it once did.
Nonetheless, there are some simple resolutions. For example, Snapchat’s creators could categorize large-scale issues—like natural disasters or health crises—into a large story featured at the top of the Discover page. Users would then be able to click on it to view stories of their choice and skip through ones that do not interest them with a single tap.
I strongly believe Snapchat should consider promoting awareness of world issues on their Discover page, over ones that lack meaning, to allow for a more socially-conscious and relevant user experience. We cannot let Snapchat inhibit our real connection to the world.