Snapchat Cracks Down on Objectionable News Stories
Snapchat's news section, called "Discover," often resembles the magazine rack at the checkout line in your local supermarket. This afternoon, for example, its top stories have headlines like "9 Epic Stage Falls You Need to See to Believe" (from People) and "Iggy gets jiggy with new man" (from the Daily Mail), with raunchy and wacky photos to accompany each one.
Although Snapchat may be open to publishers who blur the line between news and clickbait, it is worried about crossing over that line into the realm of fake news, according to the New York Times, which reported Monday that the social media startup will now ban publishers from posting photographs on Discover that don't have news or editorial value, and introduce a self-reporting tool for publishers to identify content that isn't appropriate for minors.
The changes are part of an overhaul to Snapchat's content guidelines for Discover publishers, which Snapchat said in a statement will "empower our editorial partners to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual and safe environment for everyone." The changes also include clarifications on the types of content Snapchat deems to be objectionable, and more specific guidance on which stories must display warnings to readers who may find them disturbing. There will be clear exceptions for content that Snapchat or its publishers deem to be "sufficiently newsworthy."
The updated rules appear to be designed partly as an enforcement mechanism to help Snapchat clean up its act, since as the Times notes, publishers on Discover are already banned from posting images that are "misleading or gimmicky," or using headlines and images that are inappropriate for children under 13. The updated content guidelines go into effect on Jan. 23, while the age reporting tool will roll out in February, according to Snapchat.
It's not clear what penalties publishers will face if they violate the strengthened content restrictions, but it is clear that they see value in the Discover platform, and therefore might be willing to acquiesce to Snapchat's demands. Advertising trade publication Digiday reported last year that publishers must guarantee that their content will generate a minimum amount of ad revenue in order to be included in Discover -- from "as little as $500,000 over six months to as high as $5 million over a year."