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Snapchat launches new safety feature to limit bad actors from contacting users

Snapchat on Tuesday announced a suite of new safety features, including updates to its account blocking feature and enhanced friend protections to make it harder for strangers to contact users on its platform. The new measures come amid concerns that predators on the social media app are taking advantage of teens, often leading to serious incidents including sexual blackmail.

One of the latest updates to address such issues is an improvement to Snapchat’s existing user blocking tool. It will block new friend requests from malicious users who have been blocked by the user, which are sent by other accounts created on the same device. Snap said in a statement that this will help further limit the spread of other existing accounts or new accounts created by the blocked account.

Snapchat will also roll out more frequent reminders to let users know which friends they have shared their location with on the Snap Map. In addition, Snapchat will get a simplified location sharing feature that will make it easier for users to customize which friends can see their location. Snap recommends that users only share their real-time location with family or close friends.

Snapchat simplifies location sharing
Image Source: Break

In addition to the new location sharing update, Snapchat is also expanding the in-app pop-up warning feature that first launched in 2023, which will appear if a user adds a friend who has no mutual friends or is not in 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 from an area where the teen’s friend network is not typically located. This feature will initially be launched in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Europe, and parts of Europe.

Another new friend protection measure will block friend requests from being sent if a teen sends or receives a request from someone they don’t have mutual friends with and that person has visited Snapchat in a place often associated with scams. This is in addition to a previous feature that restricted teens from getting friend suggestions for accounts in Quick Add or Search unless they had multiple mutual contacts. The new feature is currently available in a handful of countries and will soon be rolled out in a more localized form in India, the company said.

Snapchat issues in-app warnings for suspicious contacts
Image Source: Broken

“Our latest safety features are designed to support real friendships, help teens make smart choices, and ensure every Snapchatter feels safe and confident when using our app,” said Uthara Ganesh, head of public policy for South Asia at Snap, in a statement.

Snapchat is popular among teenagers, with more than 20 million people using the app in the U.S. alone, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January. However, the app, like other social media platforms, is often criticized for not taking significant steps to protect underage users.

In 2022, Snap launched the Family Hub, which allows parents to monitor teens’ activity on the platform. The hub was launched in response to regulatory pressure on social networks to protect minors. However, Spiegel said in comments to Senator Alex Padilla in January that only about 200,000 parents use its parental control features.

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