Snapchat will warn minors when they are added by strangers

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Snapchat is rolling out a number of safety features to make it harder for strangers to contact teens on the platform. For example, underage users must be warned if a stranger tries to add them as a friend.

If a user wants to add a 13- to 17-year-old on Snapchat, but the person has no mutual friends or is in the minor’s contacts, the social media platform will issue a pop-up warning, writes the company. The minor account then has the option to report or block the user. By pressing ‘Okay’ the pop-up disappears and the user of the teen account can still send a message.

Furthermore, underage users should be less likely to appear in search results or be introduced to other users as potential friends. Accounts of 13 to 17 year olds have been shown for some time only to users with ‘several’ mutual friends, but the number of friends that both accounts must have in common is being increased. According to Snapchat, the exact amount depends on the user’s total number of friends.

In addition, the company has adjusted its content moderation system for public parts of the app, such as Spotlight and Stories. According to Snapchat, all content is now automatically checked by machine learning tools, and if a piece of content attracts a certain number of viewers, a human moderator also checks whether it may violate Snapchat rules. If a piece of content is reported, it is immediately manually checked, according to the platform. The company operates a ‘strike’ system, where repeated violations can lead to account deletion.

Finally, the company includes safety tips in the app that explain the sexual risks of online communication and cite resources that can provide help. The new safety features will be implemented in the coming weeks, according to the social media platform.

Snapchat has recently released features to protect minors in the app. Last year, for example, Snapchat introduced a setting that made it possible to completely disable the visibility of 13- to 17-year-olds in the Quick Add feature. The platform also recommends other accounts to follow, for example because they have the same friends. The company also introduced the Family Center, a parental control function, a year ago.

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