24 February 2017

DIGITAL - SnapChat Discover Takes on "Fake News"

SnapChat Discover is designed to be a premium source of news and entertainment, with content provided by publishers in the news, magazine, and television industries.

In a 2015 blog post, shortly after SnapChat Discover launched, Snap wrote, “Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”

Two years later, Snap is following through on that promise by demanding more from Discover publishers and creators.

New guidelines have been released with the intent to counter the growing problem of “fake news” on social media.

Editors of Discover publishers will be expected to fact-check each of their publications – not only their own stories, but also any stories that they link.

An executive from Snap told The Guardian that these changes are intended to “empower our editorial partners to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual and safe environment for everyone.”

There is a growing, and global, crisis of trust in a variety of established institutions – government, business, NGOs, and the media.

When it comes to the media, this distrust is fueled by perceptions that traditional news media is biased, and by the fact that fake news is running rampant across social media platforms.

According to Pew Research, 23% of adults say they have shared a fake news story either intentionally or accidentally, and 64% of adults say that fake news has caused significant confusion about basic facts.

The solution to the prevalence of fake news may be in moving away from automation and algorithms, and back to human engagement with curating content.

Better interface design, with a focus on making it easy to find and share good stories, and hard to spread false ones, is becoming more of a necessity.

Carl Alviani at Quark writes, “Every digital interaction encourages certain behaviors, and every media channel has limitations. Actively shaping those parameters to encourage civil, factual discussion isn’t only justifiable—it’s nearly an ethical necessity.”

SnapChat is actively engaging with that necessity, and it will likely prove good for the bottom line as well as for users ease of mind.

Their move to establish Discover as a highly-curated hub of reliable content has the potential to lend credibility to publishers who establish themselves on the platform, as well as benefiting the platform itself.

Discover needs this boost, since views were down in late 2016 as the company dealt with major competition from Instagram Stories, and struggled with how to monetize more effectively ahead of their upcoming IPO.

Tightening up their content guidelines, and investing in Discover Shows (with their new stream of ad revenue), looks like an effective way to place themselves ahead of other social media sites when it comes to reliability.

Since wealthy Americans are among those most concerned with fake news, this is a wise move.

The Washington Post is ready to take advantage of this opportunity.

They were at the head of the pack when it came to incorporating SnapChat into election coverage, and they’ve launched a daily Discover Edition which makes them the first prestige news outlet to offer multiple news updates throughout the day on that platform.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a published academic, an editor with the Editors Association of Canada, an independent scholar and researcher, and a self-care and narrative coach. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and identity - how our tools shape our selves and change our stories, and in how the nature of work is changing as we incorporate more technology into our daily lives.

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