Snapchat is not a social media company, says director

There is a lot of debate about what makes a social media platform successful.

Elon Musk vows to prioritize free speech if he takes over Twitter, but balancing it with moderation is the path the network has been trying to navigate from the start.

After the Tesla boss’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter, the company has been trying to reassure advertisers that their posts won’t appear alongside harmful or offensive content, a sign of concern that the platform will become a more toxic place for Musk.

Meanwhile, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, says that 20 percent of all time users spend on Instagram is viewing Reels, its short video feature.

Snapchat has focused on personal communication and augmented reality. And while recent results did not hit revenue targets, daily users grew 18 percent faster than rivals Meta and Twitter.

TechFT spoke with Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, who wants to distance Snapchat from Twitter and social media altogether.

Would you call Snap a social media platform?

We never call ourselves a networking platform. We are a camera company to communicate with your close friends and family.

How much are they leaning towards hardware with Spectacles and Pixy, the new flying cameras announced today?

Much of our focus has been on trying to enable things that are not possible with today’s hardware. There are a lot of limitations (with the phone, because) you have to hold it in your hands. To really unlock the potential in the future, we need to find ways to make augmented reality more immersive and encourage users to walk and use their hands and voice to interact.

It seems that Elon Musk wants to push the boundaries of freedom of expression on Twitter. Do you think that’s a good thing?

It’s been transformative over the last decade to see so many people get a voice they didn’t have. This has a positive impact on our society. We also face the challenge that when you vote for everyone, sometimes people say things that are not true or hurtful. Sometimes such speech can undermine healthy self-expression. Because if you’re in an environment where you feel like someone is going to harass you or say something untrue, it can actually limit your ability to express yourself, it can make you feel scared.

Our philosophy at Snapchat is to promote self-expression by creating an environment where people feel comfortable doing it, no public likes or comments, no content can go viral without being reviewed.

Internet of (four) things

1. Apple faces a new antitrust battle in Brussels. They looked at how the tech giant was restricting its rival’s access to the Apple Pay mobile payment system.

2. Twitter has overstated viewership by three years. In its first-quarter results, the company acknowledged that the “mistake” meant it had overestimated its monthly active users by 1.9 million for nearly three years.

3. The UK’s online security bill could stifle competition. The new rules will force tech companies to better protect their users.

4. Technology wins among America’s fastest growing companies. In the Financial Times’ third annual ranking of companies by revenue growth rate, the region’s technology companies are booming.

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Roderick Gilbert

"Entrepreneur. Internet fanatic. Certified zombie scholar. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon expert."

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