A Few Thoughts and Comments on Snapchat

First of all I’d like to thank Peter Hamby, Head of News at Snapchat, for joining our class virtually to talk about Snapchat from a news perspective. Our class got some very interesting insight about what happens behind-the-scene of live stories and how all the news is controlled. As a result, our class is asked to write an informal memo for Peter Hamby on thoughts and suggestions we have for Snapchat.

News Diet

I mostly read the Boston Globe, Huntington News, and the New York Times. Sometimes, I’ll read the Washington Post if there’s an interesting article circulating around. I usually read the news on either my iPhone or iPad. I have the app versions of these newspapers and I keep receiving notifications and updates on breaking stories through them.

I also use social media websites to receive news. Facebook is mostly where I read BuzzFeed articles and watch videos about entertainment news. I use Twitter for more serious news, such as the 2016 Elections. And then there is Instagram and Snapchat. To be honest, I’ve never really used either for news. I use them mostly just to stay updated with what my friends are doing or what’s the new trend lately since they change so quickly nowadays.

Lastly, I do watch cable and network newscast daily in the morning while getting ready and sometimes later at night. I usually watch the morning stories on Channel 5, Channel 7, and CBS. At night, I like to watch FOX News at 10 or 11 for news in the greater Boston area.

“Discover” Content on Snapchat

I have never used the Discover aspect of Snapchat for news. I did check it out, a few times, for Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan stories but I’ve never taken it seriously for news. I’m a huge consumer of Cosmopolitan and love reading its magazines, but I would rather visit their website or buy the physical magazines (which I already have a ton of) than go on Snapchat for their news content. It just seems like a hassle to receive news from Discover, maybe I’m just not used to it yet. It’s fun to play around with I guess but I wouldn’t take it seriously for news.

Live Stories on Snapchat

The Live Stories tab is by far my favorite aspect of Snapchat and I think it was a great idea to have stories from such an angle on Snapchat. I always view all the live stories, and especially when they’re live in particular cities. It’s as if I’m immersed in the process of that story experiencing it myself. I’m not too sure about how breaking stories would fit here because Snapchat is truly for fun and entertainment purposes. Live stories such as the Oscars, Holidays, 2016 Elections, Winter Youth Olympics, etc. are extremely entertaining and they keep you updated on the latest, but I feel that’s all to it. I feel breaking news about much more serious topics wouldn’t easily fit with Snapchat’s ideal purpose.

Final Thoughts

For me, Snapchat is mainly a source of entertainment and a way to keep in touch with my friends. I don’t see myself using their Discover feature too often for news. There is also the issue of age restriction on Snapchat. Some Snapchat users can be as young as 10 years old, since every kid has a smartphone now. If Snapchat started displaying every kind of breaking news, including news about war in other countries, it would raise ethical issues. Snapchat’s team would have to go through a whole new process to add age restrictions for their users but that’s the whole point, Snapchat isn’t about hard news, it has a softer side regarding its news content. Therefore, in my opinion Snapchat should stay the way it is instead of trying so hard to get a news aspect in it somewhere.

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