Amid poor third-quarter results and stagnant user acquisition rates, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that his social media company would undertake a significant overhaul of its platform. The initial redesign began rolling out on Wednesday and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.
The goal, Spiegel told investors, is to make the Snapchat app easier to use and navigate in the hope that it will spur user adoption across generations, including baby boomers. Another goal of the redesign is to combat the spread of fake news and promote more intimate sharing among friends on the app.
“While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves,” Spiegel said in a blog post about the redesign.
To that end, Spiegel announced in an Axios opinion piece that the app would disentangle the social and media communications from here on out, marking “an important step forward towards strengthening our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media.” The left side of the app will focus on your friends and what your groups share and discuss. The right side of the app will have the “Discover” feed featuring content from publishers and influencers.
“The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media,” Spiegel wrote. “We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.”
Another major change is the introduction of machine-learning algorithms, similar to the ones employed by Netflix, to recommend and curate content on the Discover feed. The algorithms will help you discover new content based on your interests, preferences, and past activity rather than simply pushing content to you because your friends are sharing it.
You can help personalize your own Discover feed by subscribing and unsubscribing from the content you find there. There’s also a “see less like this” option for additional fine-tuning.
While AI will make recommendations on your Discover feed, the content itself will be curated by humans. To make sure that algorithms aren’t solely responsible for the content you consume, Snapchat has hired an editorial team of content programmers to ensure “that each user sees a diverse mix of content formats, and be able to promote interesting or editorially important content to users.”