Author: Kim Betzner
In June of this year, Snapchat decided to spice things up and launched its first paid version: Snapchat Plus. For $3.99/month, users are introduced to a plethora of new features. The social media company, which has over 300 million users, has operated on a free tier with a stream of ads since 2011. While most new features seem trivial and fun, a few pose the potential threat for danger and drama. Let’s take a closer look at each feature.
Friend Ghost Trails
One of the most notable new features is Ghost Trails. Under the free version, users use Snap Maps to see the latest location of their friends. Now, with Ghost Trails, users can see everywhere their friends have been in the last 24 hours. This tool shows a yellow trail that shows the exact route a user took from point A to B. It’s important to note this feature is opt-in and can only show your location while you are using your app.
Problems can arise with Ghost Trails since often users don’t know everybody, they are friends with on Snapchat. Many times, users add people they’ve had brief encounters with and forget they stayed friends with on social media. Any of these “friends” with a paid subscription can look at your everyday routes and study your movement patterns, even if you are using the free version. This means your 24-hour digital footprint is available to any paid subscriber.
As a parent, we encourage you to have open discussions with your kids about the potential dangers of location sharing. To disable location sharing, users need to go to their Snapchat Account settings and activate Ghost Mode which will hide your location from friends. Users also have the option to deselect individual accounts you don’t want to allow access to your location.
Story Rewatch Indicator
Snapchat users have always had the ability to see who views their story, which is a video or photo that stays up for 24 hours. Snapchat+ is taking this one step further and allowing subscribers to see how many people watched their story more than once. To do this, users need to open their story and look for the glancing eyes emoji. The number next to the emoji counts how many friends have rewatched your story, not the number of times it’s been rewatched.
Although the update does not reveal which friends actually rewatched your story, this feature can be exciting for users who consistently post stories and are interested in how their stories are being received.
Friend Solar System
The Friend Solar System allows paid subscribers to see who a user interacts with the most on the platform. This feature shows your friend’s Bitmoji with either a “Best Friends” or “Friends” badge. Best Friends means you are both in each other’s top eight friends and Friends means you’re in their top eight friends however that person isn’t in one of your top eight friends. The app allows you to pin one person as your BFF, best friend forever.
It’s no surprise that whenever there are ranking systems among friends, feelings can be hurt. Most of us remember MySpace’s Top 8 where users ranked their friends in order. This digital popularity system often creates drama and feelings of isolation, especially among teenage girls. A user may feel left out if they don’t have a “Best Friends” badge or if they thought they were someone’s BFF, but Snapchat says otherwise… which may lead to unnecessary drama.
The photo and video sharing app even found a way to let other users know you are willing to pay $3.99 a month for these exclusive features, or at least convinced your parents to dish out the money, with a black star badge representing that you are a Snapchat+ member. The badge separates the haves from the have nots, and in adolescent years, this may become an arena for bullying or cruel teasing.
Custom App Icons
Paid subscribers can now customize the Snapchat icon on their phone’s home screen. From an American flag to a rainbow, to a sunflower, users can now personalize Snapchat icons to match their personality. The signature ghost icon is finally getting a makeover with 34 different variations offered.
How can OurPact help?
OurPact is the perfect device management solution for parents to monitor apps like Snapchat. Parents can choose to block Snapchat or create custom schedules so kids can only use the app at designated times. If your child doesn’t currently have Snapchat, OurPact sends parents a notification every time a child downloads a new app. This allows parents to be informed of which apps their child has on their devices and research the app in the first stage of their child using it.
Parents also have the option to take remote screenshots of their kids’ devices using the View feature. View ensures your kids are using their phones and devices with safety and gives you visibility and a peace of mind.
While Snapchat collects revenue from their once free app, more and more features will be released to its paid subscribers. OurPact is here to help you navigate this never-ending, always advancing, digital world and help keep your child’s digital experience safe.