According to the app itself, there were some of the designers who asked for a certain time period to implement the policy and were permitted to do so, as they promised to work with honesty and truthfulness to implement the changes. However, it is somewhat hard for a user to find out which of the apps are obeying the policy, which are simply avoiding the rules, and which ones are promoting Snap Kit integrations that they don’t actually have.
Last year, one of the apps introduced an extension, the anonymous Q&A app, called Sendit which had a sudden powerful growth and jumped to the top of the App Store when Snap eliminated other anonymous apps for Q&A. A teen was bullied through YOLO and LMK applications, and committed suicide, due to which the mother of the teen sued the company, and as results snap eliminated both the applications. Along with Meta, Snap was named in the second lawsuit, claiming the lack of safety on these social platforms, which was stated as the cause of death of a teen, by her mother.
After this case, Snap carried out an examination of the policies of its platform, precisely focusing on children’s safety issues due to apps that meld with the functions and features of Snapchat. This issue was highly prioritized and emphasized in the newly introduced policies and has a great effect on the apps that use the Snap Kit platform. This set of designers’ tools grants third-party applications to use sign-in with Snapchat as verification, or use Snapchat’s own camera, its Bitmoji, etc.
Initially, when Snap introduced the policy terms, it was said that it will just impact a small group of developers, which might be more than 1,500 designers in their wide community. According to Snap, about 2% of designers will be affected due to the ban on anonymous messaging applications, and the other 3% might get affected due to age-restricted, friend-finding applications.
Sendit was seen to be not using the required feature, which was shown clearly in the developer documentation screenshot, hence was considered non-compliant. However, according to Snap, the app designer requested some time to make new changes and was given that time. Sendit is currently No.8 in the lifestyle category in the App Store, and Snap is convinced that the app will comply eventually.
Many third-party applications are still running as usual and can’t seem to be complying with the policy at first glance.
Apps evading the rules:
Some apps are allowed to take time, some are working using Snapchat’s rules, while others are promoting themselves as Snapchat-linked apps when they are simply not.
The app ‘Let Me Know’ also has a fake version, which was banned last year, but is still providing anonymous polls which intervene with Snapchat’s features. It is restricted to 12 years above children on the App Store. LMK is one of the apps that was requested and was granted an extended time period.
Apps like ‘Hit Me Up’ and ‘Intext’ that are anonymous messaging apps, having 9+ and 4+ age ratings on the App store respectively, are still running. They both claims that they are Snapchat-linked apps, however, Intext is banned by Snap- you cannot verify by using a Snapchat login.
On the other hand, Hoops, Dope, Wink, Purp, and some other friend-finding apps are restricted to only adult users, on App Store, however, the age limit is 12+. If Snapchat evaluates and approves them they would have a 17+ age rating.
For Parents, the inconsistency over the Snapchat app also shows that they should not rely on Apple or Google’s parental controls to restrict the friend-finding applications from being installed on their child’s smartphone. And for the child passing the age limit is simply easy just like filling in a fake date of birth.
Snap’s director of Platform Partnership, Alston Cheek said that ‘for us, the foremost thing is the privacy and safety of our community and we expect our designers to make products that promote fun and positivity along with sticking by the standards.’
However, given that the apps are evading the rules, it would be better if the app store itself uses the same guidelines. Or maybe it shows that regulation is really important to save children and teens from being involved in 18+ or harmful experiences. Because Snapchat also shares top charts with various other applications that are for younger users or teenagers, the rules applying to one app also apply to all other apps.
For example, a new app BeReal is currently very popular in the Gen Z market. This app encourages users for spontaneous pictures, and till now has over 10 million downloads. In fact, about 3.3 million downloads were recorded in Q1 only, and according to the firm, the majority of users are from Gen Z. LiveIn is another app, used amongst Gen Z, which allows them to upload pictures to each other’s profiles through a widget- a feature that was later adopted by BeReal.
These applications offers experiences that do not just serve Snapchats demographics but also offer features that Snapchat is used for – fun, photos that are not long-lasting. In the meantime, Snapchat grows, and its rivals have the opportunity to introduce similar features and expand their platforms, to a point where they also introduce some out-of-standard apps.
Currently, these applications pose a new kind of threat: Snapchat losing its users’ time and engagement as they try out new ways to connect with friends.
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