Snapchat introduces new safety features to limit bad actors from contacting users

Tolani Alvita
4 Min Read

Snapchat on Tuesday announced a new suite of safety features, including updates to its account blocking functionality and enhanced friending safeguards, making it difficult for strangers to contact users on its platform. The new move comes amid concerns over predators exploiting teens on social media apps, which often results in severe incidents, including sextortion.

One of the latest updates to address such issues is improving Snapchat’s existing user blocking tool. It will block new friend requests from bad actors who were already blocked by the user when they were sent using other accounts created on the same device. This will help further limit outreach from other existing or new accounts created by the blocked account, Snap said in a statement.

Snapchat will also introduce more frequent reminders informing them about which friends they share their location with on the Snap Map. Additionally, Snapchat will gain a simplified location-sharing feature, which will make it easier to customize which friends can see their location. Snap recommends that users only share their live location with family members or close friends.

Snapchat simplified location sharing
Image Credits: Snap

Alongside the new location-sharing updates, Snapchat is expanding in-app pop-up warnings, first launched in 2023, that appear if they add a friend who doesn’t share mutual friends or is not a part of their contacts. The update will add another pop-up message to warn users if they receive a chat from someone who has been blocked or reported by other users or is from a region where the teen’s friend network is not typically located. This feature will initially be available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nordics and parts of Europe at launch.

Another new friending safeguard will prevent the delivery of friend requests if a teen sends or receives a request from someone they do not share mutual friends with and the person has a history of accessing Snapchat in locations often linked with scams. This is an addition to the earlier feature that restricted teens from getting friend suggestions of an account in Quick Add or Search unless they have multiple mutual connections. The new feature is currently available in a select few countries and will soon be launched in India in a more localized form, the company said.

Snapchat in-app warning for suspicious contact
Image Credits: Snap

“Our newest safety features are all about supporting genuine friendships, empowering teens to make smart choices, and ensuring that every Snapchatter feels secure and confident while using our app,” said Uthara Ganesh, Head of Public Policy-South Asia, Snap, in a statement.

Snapchat has been quite popular among teens, with over 20 million using the app in the U.S. alone, per Snap CEO Evan Spiegel during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January. However, the app — alongside other social media platforms — is often criticized for not taking significant steps to safeguard minor users.

In 2022, Snap introduced a Family Center to let parents monitor their teens’ activity on the platform. It was launched in response to the regulatory pressure social networks faced to protect minors. However, Spiegel stated in his comments to Senator Alex Padilla in January that only around 200,000 parents use its parental supervision controls.

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