After nearly five years of filter-face fun, I am saying goodbye to my Snapchat account.
I remember when I first got Snapchat. I didn’t get it. Why were people sending weird face things to people? Isn’t that what emojis were for?
Along with YouTube, it became a fun way to showcase my Year Abroad to friends back home. To give people across the Atlantic an actual glimpse into life in Brazil – because even five years ago, there wasn’t much for English speakers to read or see outside of Copacabana.
After the Year Abroad I went through the whole phase of showcasing my favourite songs on a night out and weird stuff friends say. But that quickly became dull – and so did watching other people do it. Soz.
It’s not personal, it’s just business.
Earlier this year, Stacey Dooley did a documentary about how drugs are distributed in the UK. And one of the ways was through teens on Snapchat.
They use emojis to show what they sell and then they organise to meet.
But what shocked me more than knowing kids were still being used in this way, was Snapchat’s response when challenged. Or rather, Snapchat’s no response.
They refused to come forward at first. And then after pressure came forward with some excuse that they were “trying to encourage the community to report it”. Nothing on what they were doing operationally.
This was the first time I felt weird about using Snapchat.
I was never one to blow the angry “safety online” trumpet. But how have companies not clocked on to something by now?
Today, it’s Snapchat. Ten years ago it was Club Penguin. Ten years before that it was chat rooms.
I was 20 when I started using Snapchat. At the time, we were the prime age/target audience for Snapchat. Now it’s all the rage among teens.
Big brands like Nike know it. The media know it. Celebrities and PR know it. Drug dealers and pervs know it too.
Speaking to my 16 year old sister, she said the same. As with any messaging programme, teens are being asked for nudes and offered drugs. Even she is nervous.
And yet, Snapchat do nothing!?
While we’re at it, let’s talk about their ‘knack’ for business and innovation:
Two years ago, I wanted to create a geofilter for work. They were very new, and you only got them in London or other “major” cities in the UK. I applied for our geofilter and, by some miracle, we got it! Unheard of at the time.
Two years later – after Instagram let you tag your location, for free, with a map if you want to check out the location – Snapchat created a pay scheme for geofilters. Oh, and also briefly made Bitmojis cool again.
Let’s be honest, they completely missed the boat. Birthday and wedding filters had a brief spot in the limelight but quickly died again.
I could almost guarantee that Instagram (read Facebook) would find a better way of doing that too…
On a professional level alone I just cannot stand by a company that will not take teen safety seriously and has no gumption to run with innovation.
My other sister made a comment about sending me stuff on it. And sure that’s true. People won’t be able to contact me on one platform. We’ll get over it! Instagram have filters too.
I simply don’t want my personal brand, however small right now, to be associated with such an ethic. Or lack thereof.
I wouldn’t use a lipstick or moisturiser, let alone showcase it, if I didn’t believe in it. So why should apps be any different?
Sorry Snapchat, it’s not personal, it’s just business.