Politicians grill Snap on addiction, age limits - Mobile World Live

Politicians grill Snap on addiction, age limits

21 MAR 2019

Snap executives were quizzed by MPs from the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee about the addictive nature of the company’s messaging app and what they are doing to ensure people younger than 13 can’t sign up.

The company told MPs it may make changes to a feature called Snapstreaks, which encourages users to send friends a picture or video within a 24-hour period for at least three consecutive days. A flame with a number appears next to the name of the friend a user has a streak with.

BBC News reported some Snap users try to keep up several streaks every day and may even ask others to log in on their behalf if they are unable to themselves, in order to maintain them.

Committee chairman Damian Collins said: “It seems that the value of a relationship could be measured in the length of a streak.”

Snap’s senior director of public policy, Stephen Collins, and Will Scougal, creative strategy director, promising to take the thoughts of the committee on board.

“Streaks were meant to be a fun thing…but we are always looking at whether we should sunset a particular feature and we will revisit it,” said Collins.

Limits
While Snapchat has a minimum age requirement of 13 years, one MP said he was able to sign up to Snapchat despite entering a date of birth that indicated he was 12 years old.

Collins acknowledged it was “not possible to keep under-13s off any platform” because they can get around parental controls and added: “We need a robust age verification system and we are working with the Home Office on this”.

The company was also asked about Snapchat dysmorphia, a phrase used to describe users changing body and facial features with filters and lenses, which observers believe could lead to self-esteem issues.

To this, the executives said “more research was needed across the whole industry” on the impact of beauty apps and filters.

Snapchat has also been in trouble in the UK relating to the murder of Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old boy. Earlier this month Bednar’s family stated Snap failed to help police investigate abusive messages they believe were being sent by his killer from jail.

Meanwhile Snap is gearing up to launch a gaming platform for developers at its first-ever conference for content partners next month, as it looks to boost revenue.

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Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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