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Snapchat Update Fails to Impress Students

Christopher Hacker | The PHOENIX

Snapchat’s first big update of 2018 made some major changes to its design and many Loyola users aren’t happy.

Snapchat has always been a fun and simple app: You send a picture or a selfie to a friend — called a snap — for a limited amount of time or you post to your story feed for friends to see for up to 24 hours.

The app sees 187 million daily active users worldwide and an average of 3.5 billion snaps sent per day.

However, some Loyola students said the social media app’s new design, rolled out earlier this month, is now messy, confusing and difficult to use.

Many users complained about the format of the “Friends” screen, which now contains all stories, messages and snaps in one place. But, some users feel the previous “Friends” screen was much simpler.

It contained messages and snaps in one place, which allowed you to only send messages and pictures to your friends. Snapchat stories, a temporary compilation of images and videos users post which disappear after 24 hours, were on an entirely separate screen.

There are mixed reviews about the new “Discover” screen, which displays content and stories from publishers, advertisers, news outlets, celebrities and people the users might follow.

Some users complained about the app updating automatically without notifying them about the new changes, because it forced them to change from the old design.

Loyola peer advisor and junior psychology major Diego Leanos said he deleted the app and re-downloaded it with the old version, but it automatically updated within a few days.

First-year biology student Maheen Jaben said she was frustrated with the update.

“Stories and chats [messages] do not belong together,” Jaben said. “I liked it better when the stories were separate. I hope they update it back.”

First-year School of Law student Kass Cambron said the update “is not aesthetically pleasing … it is unorganized and confusing.”

Cambron also said the update caused her ex-boyfriend to accidentally message her because the update confused him. This “awkward encounter” resulted in Snapchat putting him at the top of her friends list because he messaged her the most recently of any of her friends.

“I don’t want to see his story,” the law student said.

First-year student Jefar Guard, a computer science major, said he understood the intentions behind the update but still wasn’t completely satisfied with the results.

“I can see what they were trying to do, especially with the Discover page, with celebrity stories and giving me news outlets to look at, but it all seems counterproductive to me. Having [the stories and messages] separate was nice, because I could organize my streaks,” the 18-year-old said.

On Snapchat, having a streak with someone means two users have sent snaps to each other every day for a consecutive number of days. If one person fails to snap the other within 24 hours, they lose their streak.

Due to the update, Guard lost some of his streaks because the update organized his streak friends at the bottom of his “Friends” screen where he couldn’t see them.

These Loyola students aren’t alone in their frustration. More than one million users have signed an online petition requesting Snapchat remove the new update and return to the original design, according to Change.org.

The popularity of that petition and widespread criticism of the new update, along with changes to competitor Instagram that carry many of the same features as Snapchat, led analysts at Citi Bank to downgrade the stock of Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, Inc., to “sell,” signaling to investors that company’s profits could be negatively impacted.  

Snap Inc. currently has no plans to reconsider the original design, despite the users’ complaints. In a recent statement, Snapchat said “updates as big as this one can take a little getting used to, but we hope the community will enjoy it once they settle in.”

Since it was first launched back in 2011, Snapchat has become wildly popular among teens and young adults.

On top of its more than 180 million active users worldwide every day, Snapchat has reached as many as 10 billion daily mobile video views — almost as many as Facebook, according to the most recently available data from Snapchat.

And increases in Snapchat’s popularity among younger demographics has continued to outpace other social media, according to a poll taken in October by asset management firm Piper Jaffray.

Almost half of teenagers surveyed said Snapchat was their favorite social media app, the survey showed. That’s almost double the popularity of the second-most popular Instagram, which was the favorite of only 24 percent of respondents, and more than five times more popular than Facebook. Twitter, the least popular app among teens, was the favorite of only seven percent of respondents.

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