Viral petition leads to more filtering for sexual content on Snapchat

Written by: 
Leslie Owusu
After over 25,000 signatures, Snapchat has now changed the regulations that control what publishers advertise on the Discover feature. BYU-Hawaii students said they will be glad to see the sexualized content go away.
The change started after Malissa Richardson, a Provo native, created a petition on demanding something be done about the sexual content thrown at Snapchat users through the Discover feature. The petition named #NoThanksSnapchat received 5,000 signatures in its first 10 hours.
On the petition she wrote, “I love using Snapchat and am one of the 150 million humans in the world that uses it every day... Unfortunately… I am bombarded with featured stories from Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, and others…The first ones I see, obviously very calculated in their placement, contain sexually explicit headlines and pictures that if I had the option to remove, I would. 
“Do I have the option of whether or not to watch the featured story in its entirety? Yes. But do I still have to see the headline and provocative photos that advertise them without the option of removing it? Yes. And that's not okay. . . .”
Snapchat user Ashley Greer, a junior in accounting from Washington, D.C. said she has been using Snapchat since it first launched in 2011. “There is so much nudity and bad things on the Discover Stories and it’s not good. It’s disgusting stuff. I think Snapchat has downgraded since adding that feature.” 
The announcement came on Jan. 23. Snapchat spokeswoman, Rachel Racusen said Snapchat will change the rules and guidelines that “empower our editorial partners to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual and safe environment for everyone.”
The New York Times reported, “The new rules more explicitly restrict publishers from posting questionable pictures on Discover that do not have news or editorial value. Snapchat also clarified guidelines that prevent publishers from including reports or links to outside websites that could be considered fake news, saying that all content must be fact-checked and accurate.”
Edgar Mesa a freshman in computer science from Spain said, “I think it is good that they are doing this because we are the users, we should decide what we want to see or not.” Mesa said he has been using Snapchat for three years and “in Spain, a lot of people started using it because it was innovative. It was something different. All my friends have it.”
The New York Times said, “Cleaning up what is published on Discover could have many benefits for Snapchat, like helping the service appeal to advertisers, which would not have to worry as much that they would be advertising alongside inappropriate content for Snapchat’s primary audience of teenagers and 20-somethings.
Known for targeting a younger audience, Richardson expressed her frustration through the petition. She said, “I do not care to see articles about how to improve my sex life, how to lose my virginity, or what I should know about what guys like in bed. To me, that is offensive and disgusting. What frustrates me even more is that I am not the only person exposed to this pornographic material. I hate to think that my younger siblings, friends, and millions of other young people as young as 13 years old are exposed to this content multiple times a day without the option of blocking it.”
Krysten Tuufuli a sophomore in art from New Zealand said, “My niece who is seven years old uses her older sister’s Snapchat. She knows how to use everything on there.” 
Tuufuli also said she agrees with the recent policy change. She said, “I like having control over what I see. It doesn’t really affect me because I don’t use Snapchat all that often but I think it’s good. It’s a lot safer now and community friendly. Changing these policies will affect people’s behaviors.”
Date Published: 
Friday, February 10, 2017
Last Edited: 
Friday, February 10, 2017