Tag Archives: Snapchat

UK Data Watchdog Issues Snapchat Enforcement Notice Over AI Chatbot

Snapchat could face a fine of millions of pounds after the UK data watchdog issued it with a preliminary enforcement notice over the alleged failure to assess privacy risks its artificial intelligence chatbot may pose to users and particularly children, The Guardian reported.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it had provisionally found that the social media app’s owner failed to “adequately identify and assess the risks” to several million UK users of My AI, including among 13-17-year olds.

According to The Guardian, Snapchat has 21 million monthly active users in the UK and has proved to be particularly popular among younger demographics, with the market research company Insider Intelligence estimating that 48% of users are aged 24 or under. About 18% of UK users are aged 12 to 17.

“The provisional findings of our investigation suggest a worrying failure by Snap [the parent of Snapchat] to adequately identify and assess the privacy risks to children and other users before launching My AI,” said John Edwards, the information commissioner.

BBC reported the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) warned it could close down the My AI feature in the UK after a “preliminary investigation.”

The US company said it was “closely reviewing” the provisional findings.

Snapchat describes it as a “evolving feature” which is powered by ChatGPT, an online AI tool which users new technology to convincingly imitate realistic responses.

Snap, the parent company behind Snapchat, became the first social media platform to adopt an artificial intelligence-powered chat function earlier this year.

According to BBC, Snap said it would “work constructively” with the ICO after it issued a preliminary notice against the company, adding that it had carried out a “robust legal and privacy review” before the function went public.

The data watchdog stressed its findings are not final, and it has not concluded that the company breached any data protection laws.

At this stage, the notice is a signal to Snap to ensure My AI complies with data protection rules which include the Children’s Design Code.

Engadget reported that Information Commissioner John Edwards said the IPO’s provisional findings from its investigation indicated a “worrying failure by Snap to adequately identify and assess the privacy risks to children and other users” before rolling out My AI. The ICO noted that if Snap failed to sufficiently address its concerns, it may block the ChatGPT-powered chatbot in the UK.

“My AI went through a robust legal and privacy review process before being made publicly available,” a Snap spokesperson told Reuters. “We will continue to work constructively with the ICO to ensure they’re comfortable with our risk assessment procedures.”

According to Engadget, soon after Snap rolled out the chatbot, parents raised concerns about My AI, and not only over privacy considerations. “I don’t think I’m prepared to know how to teach my kid how to emotionally separate humans and machines when they essentially look the same from her point of view,” a mother of a 13-year-old told CNN in April. “I just think there is a really clear line [Snapchat] is crossing.”

In my opinion, I think parents should have the right to decide whether or not to allow their kids to use Snapchat. Parents who have concerns about their child talking with an AI can choose to take Snapchat away, and potentially give it back when they are older.

Snapchat’s My AI Goes Rogue, Posts To Stories

Snapchat’s My AI feature, an in-app AI chatbot launched earlier this year with its fair share of controversy, briefly appeared to have a mind of its own. On Tuesday, the AI posted its own Story to the app and then stopped responding to users’ messages, which some Snapchat Users found disconcerting, TechCrunch reported.

The Story My AI posted was just a two-toned image that some mistook to be a photo of their own ceiling, which added to the mystery. When users tried to chat with the bot, the AI in some cases replied to users by saying “Sorry, I encountered a technical issue.”

According to TechCrunch, though the incident made for some great posts, we regret to inform you that My AI did not develop self-awareness and a desire to express itself through Snapchat Stories. Instead, the situation arose because of a technical outage, just as the bot explained.

“My AI experienced a temporary outage that’s now resolved,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

However, the incident does raise the question as to whether or not Snap was considering adding new functionality to My AI that would allow the AI chatbot to post to Stories. Currently, the AI bot sends text messages and can even Snap back with images – weird as they may be. But does it do Stories? Not yet, apparently.

“At this time, My AI does not have Stories feature,” a Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch, leaving them to wonder if that may be something Snap has in the works.

ArsTechnica reported: It’s not Halloween yet, but some users of Snapchat feel like it is. On Tuesday evening, Snapchat’s My AI chatbot posted a mysterious one-second video of what looks like a wall and a ceiling, despite never having added a video to its messages before. When users asked the chatbot about it, the machine stayed eerily silent.

According to ArsTechnica, “My AI” is a chatbot built into the Snapchat app that people can talk to as if it were a real person. It’s powered by OpenAI’s large language model (LLM) technology, similar to ChatGPT. It shares clever quips and recommends Snapchat features in a way that makes it feel like a corporate imitation of a trendy young person chillin with its online homies.

Mashable reported that when reached for a comment, a Snap spokesperson confirmed that My AI had experienced an outage, but that it had been since resolved.

According to Mashable, the issue was not resolved immediately, as My AI temporarily continued to respond to at least some users’ text messages with: “Hey, I’m a bit busy at the moment. Can we catch up later?” However others soon reported that the My AI chatbot was back online, allowing them to question it about its strange story.

Personally, I think this situation is mostly harmless – despite freaking out some Snapchat users. That said, I can see why people had concerns after My AI appeared to post a photo of their wall and ceiling. There is something unnatural about having an AI bot post an image in a section of Snapchat that it wasn’t intended to use.

Snapchat Adds Linktree-In-Bio Feature

Snap announced today that it is rolling out an integration with the link-in-bio tool Linktree to let people show off their work and other profiles on Snapchat, TechCrunch reported. The social network is late to allow links in the profiles of creators. Until now, it only allowed brands and Snap Stars – the biggest creators who are part of a special program – to include links.

Originally announced in April, the partnership will now allow anyone with a public profile to include links to their Linktree profile. Snap allows any user over 18 to create a public profile.

According to TechCrunch, Snapchat users can head to their public profile, click edit and select “Website or Linktree” to include their Linktree (or any other) URL. This allows users to include any other URL as well. However, Linktree is giving Snapchat profiles better visibility on its service.

With this integration, TechCrunch reported, Linktree is also offering three months of Linktree Pro. Premium subscriptions include extra features like email and phone number collection, embedding the latest tweets and YouTube videos and NFT lock.

In the wake of Instagram effectively killing its reliance on Linktree, the social media landing page service has found a new titan to partner with. Snap and Linktree are partnering to bring the service to Snapchat profiles, Gizmodo reported.

According to Gizmodo, Linktree was once synonymous with Instagram profiles as influencers everywhere would tout a simple “Link in bio!” In their post captions. Instagram users could always add a single link to their bios, and Linktree was the best solution for presenting followers with a repository of different destinations, including other social media platforms.

However, in April, the Meta-owned social media platform revealed that it would be increasing the number of links users could add to their bio to five, effectively negating the need for Linktree. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a broadcast channel at the time of release that upping the number of links in user bios was one of the most requested features Instagram had seen.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Snap’s efforts to lure creators and their followers back to its platform show early signs of traction, enticing popular internet personalities with a slice of the ad revenue their content generates.

The company behind the social-media app Snapchat – which previously lost creators after cutting a big payout program – started testing a new program last year that allows participants to earn a portion of revenue from the ads shown between their posts.

The new revenue-sharing incentive, in which creators who reach certain requirements are considered for Snap Star status, opened up to all eligible users in April and has several thousand creators in it, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The program is part of a broader effort to reverse Snap’s declining sales. The company, led by Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel, has been hurt by declining user engagement and a weakened advertising business caused in part by Apple privacy policy changes the have made it harder to track the performance of some ad campaigns. Snap’s stock has fallen almost 23% fore the past year.

In my opinion, I think that creators should decide for themselves about which social media platform is going to financially benefit them the most. That said, Snapchat has cut a big payout program in the past. Creators should consider that before going all-in on Snapchat.

Snap Introduces Fresh Features For Fall

Snapchat introduced new features to help keep conversations with friends fresh, fast, and easy to find! Here is what to expect:

Snap’s new Lock Screen Widgets, available now with iOS 16, keeps conversations with your bestie saved right to your lock screen so you can start chats with one tap. With this new tool, you can save yourself the scrolling when you want to start Snapping, keeping visual conversations with the Snapchat camera right at your fingertips.

Widgets aren’t the only thing customizing your screen this Fall: New Chat Shortcuts at the top of our chat tab will make it easy to do things like spot unread Snaps and Chats from friends, see missed calls, and reply to stories. Our Shortcuts will also remind you if you owe a reply and show you when birthdays are coming up, so you never miss someone’s special day or leave a friend on read.

We are also introducing new tools like Question Stickers so you can AMA-all-day from your Snapchat Story, plus (and just in time for back to school) we’re making Snapchat for Web available to all! Head to https://web.snapchat.com to keep conversations with friends going from any device.

These new features are available now, or coming soon so keep an eye out and your app up to date.

Engadget reported that Snapchat for Web is finally available for all the messaging app’s users worldwide. It could be the better choice for users who have a lot of typing to do and messages to send, since they’ll be looking at a bigger screen and have access to a real keyboard.

According to Engadget, the web interface is pretty basic, but it can also be used to send photos and to make audio and video calls. A company spokesperson previously told Engadget that video calling has become more popular among its users recently. Giving users access to the feature on the web could lead to longer video calls. The spokesperson also told that Snap could bring more of its core features to the web interface if there’s enough demand for them.

Social Media Today reported that initially, only Snapchat+ users could use the web version, which enables users to send messages, conduct video chats and voice calls – basically all the central connection elements of the app will now be available via your desktop PC.

Snapchat for Web also enables you to use Snap Lenses for video calls.

According to Social Media Today, the expanded availability will make it easier for people to keep in touch with their friends via Snap, in more ways, which could be particularly beneficial for the increasing cohort of people that are working from home. Which, as its audience gets older, is becoming a bigger consideration for Snap, and the expanded web version is, in some ways, an acknowledgement of this, as it looks to align with audience shifts.

Unfortunately, Snapchat for Web is incompatible with Safari. Mac users will have to use Firefox or Google Chrome to access that feature.

Snapchat Adds Summer Drops for Snapchat+ Subscribers

Snapchat announced new drops for summer. Starting August 15, 2022, Snapchat+ subscribers can access even more exclusive features as part of your subscription.

The features include:

Priority Story Replies: Your replies will be more visible to Snap Stars.

Post View Emoji: Pick an emoji you want friends to see after they view your Snaps. It’s a signature way to sign-off your Snaps.

New Bitmoji Backgrounds: Give your Bitmoji background more flair with special backgrounds like gleaming gold and a beach paradise.

New App Icons: Change up your home screen Snapchat app icon with new designs.

According to Snapchat’s internal data, as of August 8, 2022, in just over six weeks since they launched Snapchat+, they are thrilled to share there are over 1 million paying subscribers.

Snapchat+ costs $3.99/month. Snapchatters can enable Snatchat+ anytime by visiting their Profile. Snapchat says it will continue to drop more features in the coming months.

Obviously, Snapchat is pointing all of this out in an effort to convince more people to purchase Snapchat+. Those who don’t choose to pay for it will not receive the exclusive monthly drops. To me, it sounds as though Snapchat might be attempting to get non-Snapchat+ users to experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Snapchat+ is now available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Finland and Australia.

TechCrunch reported that Sensor Tower stated that Snap already registered $7.3 million in in-app revenue within 30 days of Snapchat+ launch – with the paid tier estimated to contribute more than $5 million of that sum. The analytics firm said that while the $3.99 monthly plan was a top choice, many folks also opted to get six-month or 12-month subscriptions priced at $21.99 and $39.99 respectively.

Variety reported additional features in Snapchat+ that include:

  • Ghost Trails on the map: to see where your friends who share their location with you have been in the past 24 hours
  • Best Friends Forever: pin your No. 1 BFF
Story rewatch indicator
  • Custom app icons/themes
  • A Snapchat+ badge
  • Friend solar system: See a “Best Friends” badge on someone’s Friendship Profile, which means you’re one of each other’s eight best friends.
  • “Friends” badge: Which means you’re one of their eight closest friends, but they’re not one of yours
  • Ability to access Snapchat messaging functions on the web.

The “eight closest friends” feature makes me think of the “Top 8” feature that was on MySpace (when it was new). Back then, it was entirely possible for people to get mad at you they discovered that they were not in your “Top 8”.

Snapchat Introduces Its First Parental Controls

Snapchat introduced a new feature called Family Center. It allows parents of teenagers to have some insight about who their teens have connected with on Snapchat.

From Snapchat’s post about Family Center:

At Snap, we believe that our products should reflect real-time human behaviors, and how people act and relate to each other in their everyday lives. We’ve made it a point to build things differently from the beginning, with a focus on helping Snapchatters communicate with their close friends in an environment that prioritizes their safety, privacy, and well being…

…Creating a safe and positive experience for snap chatters is critical to this mission. While we want our platform to be safe for all members of our community, we have extra protections in place for teenagers.

For example, on Snapchat:

  • By default, teens have to be mutual friends before they can start communicating with each other.
  • Friend lists are private, and we don’t allow teens to have public profiles.
  • And we have protections in place to make it harder for strangers to find teens. For example, teens only show up as a “suggested friend” or in search results in limited instances, like if they have mutual friends in common.

To build on this, Snapchat has introduced a new in-app tool called Family Center, which will help parents get more insight into who their teens are friends with on Snapchat, and who they have been communicating with, without revealing any of the substance of those conversations.

On Family Center, parents can also easily and confidentially report any accounts that may be concerning directly to Snapchat’s Trust and Safety teams, which work around the clock to help keep Snapchatters safe. Snapchat is also equipping parents and teens with new resources to help them have constructive and open conversations about online safety.

This fall, Snapchat will add additional features to Family Center, including new content controls for parents and the ability for teens to notify their parents when they report an account or a piece of content to Snapchat. Snapchat’s goal is to help empower parents and teens in a way that still protects the teenager’s autonomy and privacy.

The New York Times reported that for parents to access the controls of their teen’s Snapchat account, they need to create their own Snapchat account and be friends with their children, who have to agree to the controls. Snap said it would introduce additional features later, including one that lets parents see whom their children recently became friends with.

According to The New York Times, teenagers on Snapchat have to be mutual friends to message each other on the app, and their profile and friend lists are private. The app requires users to be older than 13, and teenagers cannot change their birth year in the app until they are 18.

Right now, the parental controls are available in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Other countries will be added in the fall.

To me, this seems like a step in the right direction. It gives teenagers some protections from adults who are strangers that seek out teens. It also gives teens just enough autonomy. Parents can see who their teen followed, but cannot read the conversation between their teen and the teen’s friends.

Snapchat Brings Chatting And Video Calling To The Web

Snapchat features like snapping, chatting, and video calling are coming to desktop through a new web app, marking the first time the company has made its service available beyond smartphones, The Verge reported.

According to The Verge, with Snapchat for web, you can log in with your Snapchat account and send private messages or call friends on desktop. Initially, the web platform will be available exclusively to Snapchat Plus subscribers, and its the first major feature launch since Snap announced its paid tier in June. Subscribers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will get access first. Snapchat will only be compatible with Google’s Chrome browser and not Apple’s Safari.

The Verge stated that Snapchat Head of Messaging Product, Nathan Boyd, says that a web offering makes sense because its users are using desktop computers more frequently. Snapchat for Web gives users extra space to chat and call in the same window, with Snap’s AR Lenses coming soon.

“We were always looking for ways to meet our community where they are,” he said in an interview, “It just felt like something that was an unmet opportunity”.

Personally, making Snapchat for Web compatible with only one browser – Google’s Chrome – is going to exclude everyone who uses other browsers. Not everyone is a fan of Chrome, and Snapchat for Web cannot be used on Safari. This doesn’t sound like “always looking for ways to meet our community where they are.”

CNBC reported that Snapchat for Web will be a more stripped-down version of the mobile app, primarily focusing on the app’s messaging feature as opposed to its Stories feature.

TechCrunch reported that to access Snapchat for Web, users need to go to web.snapchat.com and login with their Snapchat username and password. To me, this sounds like a person cannot use Snapchat for Web unless they already have a Snapchat app account.

According to TechCrunch, once you open Snapchat for Web, you can continue your conversations from where you left them on mobile. When your using Snapchat via a desktop, your Bitmoji will appear in chats with a laptop to indicate to others that you’re accessing the chat via Snapchat for Web. It will also have a privacy screen that hides the Snapchat window if you click away for another task.

TechCrunch also reported that messages that are sent via Snapchat for Web will be deleted after 24 hours. The company says that this will prevent people from taking screenshots. However, Snap is aware that people can still take a picture on the screen from their phone, noting that the product isn’t perfect.

In summary: You can’t use Snapchat for Web unless you already have a Snapchat account on the app, and are a Snapchat+ subscriber. You can only use Snapchat for Web on Google’s Chrome browser. Despite limiting the amount of time a Snapchat for Web user can see a message – it sure sounds like there isn’t anything stopping a person from taking a screenshot of that message through the Snapchat phone app.