Celebrating the 26th Amendment by Helping 18 Year Olds Register to Vote

26th Amendment Graphic

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment -- the amendment that gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in all US elections and outlawed age discrimination among eligible voters. 

At Snap, we believe that one of the most powerful forms of self-expression is exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy. Snapchat reaches 90% of 13-24 year olds in the United States, giving us an incredible opportunity to provide our youngest voters with tools that make it easier to participate in our democracy. 

Since 2016, we’ve invested in native to mobile civic products and partnerships designed to tackle challenges to voter registration, education, and participation to help make voting easier. We’ve learned that supporting the next generation of leaders needs to be a year-round effort - not just for high-profile election seasons.

That’s why in 2018, we launched a feature that automatically prompts Snapchatters on their 18th birthday to register to vote. Each month an average of 400,000 Snapchatters in the United States receive a notification to register to vote as they celebrate their birthday.

As part of a research collaboration with Tufts’ University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Snap found that college campuses are significant entry points for first-time voters, but only 36% of 18 to 23-year-olds are enrolled in college full time, which means nearly two-thirds don’t have the same civic and political engagement opportunities. Given our unique reach among young Americans, Snap is able to help bridge the gap in access to civic resources. 

Registering voters on their 18th birthday is just one step towards empowering Snapchatters to be lifelong civic participants and make their voices heard. 

Before the 2020 US election, we launched a collection of mobile-first tools with support from TurboVote and BallotReady to help Snapchatters register to vote, understand their ballot, request absentee ballots and make a plan to vote by-mail or in-person, learn about voter protection resources like the Election Protection hotline, and help their friends vote by sharing Snaps with educational filters and lenses.

We continue to work to inspire the next generation of Americans to engage in a lifetime of self-expression through civic engagement year-round - and do our part to help deliver on the promise of the 26th Amendment.

- Sofia Gross, Head of Policy Partnerships and Social Impact

Providing More Ad Choices and Controls for Our Community

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Snapchat is a space for self-expression, discovery, and exploration. Advertising is one of the ways we keep Snapchat open and accessible through curated high-quality content, product innovation, and dedicated community safety moderation. We want to deliver the best experience for our community, and we want the ads we show to be fun, interesting, and relevant to Snapchatters! 

To enable this, we are excited to share some in-app features and educational resources that give Snapchatters even more control over their advertising and data use preferences.

Ad Preferences

To help Snapchat deliver the most relevant, useful ads to Snapchatters, we let advertisers and other partners show Snapchatters ads in the service they are using based on information collected on other websites and services. If they prefer not to have ads shown to them based on this information, Snapchatters can easily adjust their Ad Preferences in App Settings. To learn more about the different Ad Preferences take a look here.

Ad Topic Choices 

If a Snapchatter doesn’t feel comfortable seeing ads from a particular advertising topic, we make it easy for them to let us know. We now offer the ability to opt out of sensitive ad topics like alcohol and political advertising, and will soon support this functionality for gambling ads too. 

Report Ad 

When a Snapchatter sees an ad, they may want to report something about it when they view it. Snapchatters can easily report if they like or dislike the content, or if they find it fraudulent or concerning. Our dedicated team at Snap is on the clock and takes action on reports that violate our policies! 

Hide Ad 

For individual ads that Snapchatters find irrelevant, inappropriate, or simply annoying, they can now easily Hide Ads from appearing for them in the future.

Report Ad / Hide Ad

Snapchatters can Report or Hide Ads easily

Educational Resources About App Tracking Transparency

As a part of our Safety Snapshot digital literacy content series, we’ve provided our community with a new Discover episode to help Snapchatters understand Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT). ATT is a new privacy framework designed to provide consumers with the ability to select how they want their personal data handled by apps through an in-app prompt. The educational episode outlines the fundamentals of how the prompt works, how to make their desired data use selection, and the impact their selection has on their ad experience on Snapchat. 

What’s next?

We will continue to prioritize privacy and choice for the Snapchat community through easy and transparent advertising preferences, and pertinent resources on safety and privacy topics. The tools and resources above represent just some of our many efforts and innovations to keep our community safe and informed. We hope these and future updates will drive awareness about the advertising and data use choices our community can make, and to encourage Snapchatters to make the choices they feel are best.

Asked & Answered: The White House Answers Snapchatters COVID-19 Questions 

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Today, we are launching a new effort with The White House to help Snapchatters answer common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this partnered Lens, Snapchatters can hear directly from President Biden, Vice President Harris, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett about the questions that matter most, like “Why should I get vaccinated?” and “Will the vaccine protect me against variants?” 

Snapchat reaches 90% of 13 to 23 year olds in the United States and throughout each phase of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve provided Snapchatters with accurate and trusted resources to stay safe, healthy, and informed. We’ve done that through a variety of new initiatives like launching an in-app mental health resource, Here for You, partnering with the Ad Council on in-app awareness campaigns, and prioritizing verified organizations on our Discover platform, including the White House COVID-19 Taskforce and World Health Organization.

From our earliest days, we designed Snapchat differently to prevent unvetted content from being able to go viral. Our Community Guidelines strictly prohibit the promotion of false information and conspiracy theories and our Discover section offers news, information, and facts from credible publishers and partners—like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization. 

As we enter this next phase of the COVID-19 recovery, we continue to explore new ways we can collaborate with credible and trusted partners to help support the health and wellbeing of our Snapchat community. To learn more about our ongoing efforts, visit: snap.com/en-US/safety-and-impact.

- Sofia Gross, Head of Policy Partnerships and Social Impact

Releasing Our Second CitizenSnap Report

CitizenSnap

Editor’s note: Snap CEO, Evan Spiegel sent the following memo to all Snap team members on May 17. 

Team, 

Today we’re releasing our second annual CitizenSnap Report. The report outlines our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts, which focus on operating our business in a responsible way for our team, our Snapchat community, our partners, and the broader world we all share.

Our report also introduces our first climate strategy, to do our part to take action at the pace and scale that is needed. As part of this effort, we have now become a carbon neutral company, past, present and future; we have adopted science-based emissions reduction targets; and we have committed to purchasing 100% renewable electricity for our facilities globally. Going forward, we will keep evolving our climate programs to keep up with best practices.

Today we’re also introducing a revamped Code of Conduct, which complements our ESG work. The new Code offers our team members an ethical decision-making framework designed to help us think broadly about what it means to do the right thing for all of our stakeholders.

We believe it’s a moral imperative to work towards creating a healthy and safe society, and we know it matters to the hundreds of millions of Snapchatters who use our services every day. It’s also good for business. As our CitizenSnap report lays out, we have both made significant strides forward, and know there is so much more to do, and ways we can improve. 

All of these efforts are a reflection of the hard work and passion of so many teams across our company, during an especially challenging year. I am so grateful for how far we have come -- and energized by the work that lies ahead. 

Evan

Supporting Snapchatters’ Mental Health & Wellbeing

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As Mental Health Awareness Month gets underway, Snap is announcing several new partnerships and in-app resources to continue supporting the mental health and well-being of our community. 

From our earliest days, Snapchat was designed in a way to empower Snapchatters to express themselves authentically. That’s why we built the platform without public vanity metrics such as public comments and friend counts, and without an unmoderated newsfeed. 

We have always been inspired by the power that real friendships have in determining health and happiness — and this is particularly true among young people. Studies show that spending time with friends, whether in person or online, is the best defense against feeling lonely or depressed and that friends are often a first port of call for those struggling with a mental health challenge. 

As a platform made for close friends, we believe Snapchat has a unique opportunity to make a difference, and have built a suite of in-app resources and features to support our community. 

Here’s a recap of our current features:

  • Early last year, we created Here For You, partnering with leading international advocacy and mental health organizations including ActiveMinds, AdCouncil, Crisis Text Line, Diana Award, eEnfance, Manas Foundation, Mariwala Health Initiative, MindUp, National Alliance on Mental Health, National Eating Disorders Association, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Project ROCKIT, Shout 85258, The Calm Zone, The Human Rights Campaign, The Samaritans and Young Minds to provide expert in-app resources related to mental health, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, grief and bullying.

  • Also in 2020, we partnered with Headspace to launch a Mini within Snapchat to provide a safe space for friends to practice meditation and mindfulness exercises while sending encouraging messages to check in and positively boost friends in need.

Here’s a few new initiatives to support Snapchatters

  • We’ve signed on as a founding partner of the first-ever Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20 alongside MTV Entertainment Group and more than 650 leading brands, nonprofits, government agencies and cultural leaders to drive people to take action to support their mental health. As part of this activation, Snap has also partnered with Active Minds on a Mental Health Action Day Filter encouraging Snapchatters to take action around mental health for themselves and for their communities. You can learn more about the initiative HERE.

  • Since everyone experiences mental health issues in different ways, we teamed up with AdCouncil to develop the “Seize The Awkward” national Filter and Lens to provide Snapchatters with unique conversation starters that spark meaningful discussions about mental health. Read more about the campaign HERE.  

  • To help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in underrepresented communities, we’ve partnered with The Boris L. Henson Foundation to create a national Filter addressing mental health risks for Black youth. Read more about the organization HERE

  • For another engaging way to raise awareness and help debunk the stigma surrounding mental health, we’re rolling out new Bitmoji Stickers that are paired with resources to find additional support. Share the 'Mental Health First' Bitmoji Sticker with friends in a Snap or in your Story to spread awareness. 

  • We've always wanted to make sure that the content on our Discover platform reflects our community and the issues they care about, including mental health. That’s why, we’re debuting a new Snap Original, “Everything’s Fine,” that follows a college junior named Gemma who tries to make it big in the music industry while coping with her bipolar diagnosis. Take a look at the trailer HERE

Going forward, we will continue to expand our wellness efforts to further empower Snapchatters to seek out support for themselves and their friends. We hope that these tools and resources will drive awareness about mental health and encourage Snapchatters to stay healthy and safe. 

Introducing the Safety & Impact Blog

When Bobby and I started working on Snapchat almost ten years ago, we focused on building something different. 

At the time, social media platforms were trying to connect as many people as possible, encouraging them to build up massive followings and broadcast content to the whole world. Rather than sharing their full range of emotion, most of our friends felt a pressure to perform, and shared maybe one percent of our experience. We posted the times we looked great, traveled, major life moments, etc. Bobby and I felt that was really limiting because the other ninety-nine percent of our lives forms the basis of our close relationships and connections. 

With Snapchat, we designed the technology around humans, not the other way around. We built Snapchat to give people a way to express their full experience, with their real friends. It’s why we made Snaps delete-by-default -- before social media, friends didn’t keep a permanent transcript of every conversation they had.

When we rolled out Snapchat, we started hearing incredible stories from people starting to send Snaps back and forth to stay in touch with friends, feeling much more free to communicate and express themselves. 

In the decade since those first conversations, we have worked hard to design products and technology that nurture and support humanity and foster real friendships. We designed a service around an expressive camera, not a newsfeed, with no public comments.

Our company has changed a lot, but our products have stayed true to these original ideas. Every day we think about how to put our community first, particularly as we all endured a year where our friends and loved ones were forced to connect virtually in creative and safe ways.

This is why I am excited to introduce our first Safety & Impact Blog. This is a place to explain our safety- and privacy-by design efforts, and explore new ideas in this space. We look forward to creating something new and helpful, and to incorporating your feedback as we go. 

Evan

Snapchat, Privacy & Safety: The Basics

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Welcome to the Safety & Impact Blog! I’m Jen Stout, VP of Public Policy, and I’m thrilled to follow Evan’s introduction with this post today that digs into our approach.

Because Snapchat is an inherently different kind of platform, we recognize that it can feel especially difficult to figure out if you have never used it yourself and don’t plan to (which is ok!). We hope this blog becomes a helpful resource for anyone who wants to better understand how young people experience our product, or the many stakeholders and advocates who seek to better understand how we approach critical issues around safety and trust.

For us, nothing is more important than the safety of our Snapchat community, and we have always believed we have a responsibility to help our community learn about how to protect their security, privacy, and wellbeing when using our products. To date we have done this through both online resources and in-app education efforts, and at the start of this year kicked off a more expansive digital literacy campaign to double down on these efforts. We have been hyper-focused on better supporting Snapchatters, and we want to do a better job of talking to their support systems: the parents, family members, mentors, and other people in their lives who care deeply about them.

To start, we’ll cover more specifics on the ways Snapchat is designed differently than traditional social media platforms. As Evan laid out, our purpose is to design products and build technology that nurtures and supports real friendships in a healthy, safe, and fun environment. This goal drives the decisions we make about how to structure and operate our platform and develop new products, how we think about the future and ultimately about our role in the technology sector. 

The Architecture of Snapchat

  • We use product development processes that consider the privacy, safety, and ethical implications of a new feature at the front end of the design process -- and we don’t launch products that don’t pass our intensive reviews. 

  • We don’t have an open newsfeed, where anyone can broadcast unvetted content to the whole world. In fact, Snapchat looks different when you first try the app because it opens to the camera -- essentially a blank canvas -- not a feed to scroll through. 

  • We don’t allow unvetted content to ‘go viral’ on Snapchat. Our content platform, Discover, only features content from vetted media publishers and content creators. Our entertainment platform, Spotlight, is proactively moderated using human review before content can reach a large audience. 

  • On Snapchat, Group Chats are limited in size. These Groups are not discoverable on our platform to anyone who isn’t already a member. Just as with 1:1 Chats, you can’t join a Group Chat if you are not already friends with someone in a Group. 

Safety and Privacy

  • Snapchat doesn’t have public comments or browsable profile photos -- it’s one of the ways we intentionally make it more difficult for strangers to reach people they shouldn’t on the app. To help protect Snapchatters under 18 in particular, we don’t allow them to create Public Profiles, and when searching for new friends on Snap we only display the user’s bitmoji avatar and not an actual photo. 

  • We have always required two-way contact authentication by default before you can send a chat to another user, because we believe friendship is mutual and secure. It’s not one person following the other, or random strangers entering our lives without permission or invitation. This is also true for other features on Snapchat like our Snap Map -- you can’t see anyone on the Map and they can’t see you unless you are friends with each other and you’ve expressly chosen to share your location.

  • We focus on making our features private-by-default, because just like in real life, we think individual users should choose what information they want to share and when. For example, location-sharing is off by default for all users when they first use our Snap Map. They have the option to decide to share it with their friends -- but never with strangers. 

  • We design products with the goal of collecting less data from our users and retaining that data for shorter periods of time - because while advertising is necessary to allow us to provide our service for free, we have found that we can provide value to business partners while still respecting the privacy of people’s friendships and not making them feel like we are turning their relationships into a commodity.

  • We offer fast and easy ways for users to report content that concerns or worries them directly to us, using in-app tools, so our dedicated Trust and Safety team can investigate and take action. 

Our Guidelines and Enforcement

  • From day one, we designed Snapchat to avoid incentives for those looking to spread harmful content. Our Community Guidelines have long prohibited bullying, hate speech, and the spread of misinformation that could cause harm, including conspiracy theories, false medical claims, and efforts to undermine civic processes. 

  • We don’t tolerate misuse of our platform and we have a dedicated infrastructure for effectively designing and enforcing our Guidelines. One way we do this is simple: when attempts are made to violate our policies, we simply remove the content. We don’t label offending content or make exceptions for public figures -- our Guidelines apply equally  to all Snapchatters. 

  • If violating content involves the safety of minors we report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and have specific processes for working with and supporting law enforcement agencies. 

This doesn’t make us perfect, and any app that facilitates communication has the potential to be abused. We have to constantly improve our tools and tactics in order to maintain and improve the safety of Snapchat. We constantly think about the risks and how we can advance our tech capabilities and practices to better protect our community. As part of these efforts, we regularly seek guidance from security, intelligence, and safety experts about the ways we can stay a step ahead of bad actors.  We plan to dive deeper into many of these topics on this blog, so you can understand how we think about these problems and work to solve them.

As a parent myself, I spend a lot of time having these conversations with my own children, with my friends grappling with the role of technology and platforms in their kids’ lives, and with the many stakeholders we talk to as part of our work at Snap. I hope this post gives insight into some of the basics, and encourages parents and family members to also check out our Parents Guide for a detailed explanation into each of our products, and additional resources for helping Snapchatters connect in a healthy, safe and fun environment. 

Jen