Educating Snapchatters on the Dangers of Fentanyl

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data showing that drug overdose deaths in the U.S have soared to record levels -- increasing more than 30% in 2020 and finding that this spike was driven by the prevalence of fentanyl, a lethal substance, and compounded by stressors from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Song for Charlie, a national organization focused on educating young people about the dangers of fentanyl, many of these deaths occur from taking a single pill disguised as a legitimate prescription medication, but actually was counterfeit -- containing fentanyl. And young people, who often experiment with prescription pills such as Xanax and Percocet, are especially vulnerable.

We first began working with Song for Charlie earlier this year to better understand the fentanyl epidemic and identify ways we and other tech companies can help make a difference. Today they are launching a new nationwide public awareness campaign to reach young people where they are -- on tech platforms -- and educate them about the hidden dangers of these fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl.  We are grateful to partner with Song for Charlie to help inform our Snapchat community on how to protect themselves and their loved ones. 

As part of this effort, our in-house news show, Good Luck America, dedicated a special episode to the fentanyl epidemic featuring an interview with Song for Charlie Founder, Ed Ternan, who tragically lost his 22-year old son Charlie after taking a fake prescription pill. You can watch the full episode below, or on our Discover content platform.  

In addition, Snapchatters can now watch PSAs produced by Song for Charlie on our Discover platform and use a new Augmented Reality (AR) lens that features key facts on the dangers of fentanyl. The lens also links to more information to help educate and inform their closest friends and encourages people to take the “No Random Pills” pledge. This initial launch is the first in a sustained partnership between Song for Charlie and Snap, which will include additional in-app education and public awareness initiatives. 

As we work to raise awareness, we also are working to strengthen our efforts to better prevent, detect and combat drug-related activity on Snapchat. Our guidelines prohibit the sale or promotion of illegal drugs, and when we proactively detect this type of content or it is reported to us, our Trust and Safety teams take quick action. 

We block drug-related terms, including slang, from usernames or being searchable on Snapchat, and regularly audit these block lists with the latest language, working closely with third-party experts. We are also constantly updating our machine learning tools for proactively identifying images, words, emojis and other likely indicators of drug-related accounts, along with other capabilities for finding and stopping drug transactions. 

We are committed to continuing to do our part to help our community protect themselves and their friends, while we keep improving our capabilities for fighting drug dealers and drug-related content online.

Doing our Part to Tackle Online Hate

We are saddened and appalled by the racist abuse that has been directed at England footballers on several online platforms following the Euro 2020 final. We wanted to give an overview of our ongoing work to combat racism, hate speech, harassment and abuse on Snapchat, as well as the steps we are taking to educate our community.

We have put a lot of work into designing a platform that prevents the opportunity for hate speech or abuse to spread. Snapchat is designed differently than traditional social media. The app is designed around the camera to create a way for people to communicate more meaningfully and authentically, and with their real friends and loved ones, rather than people that they don’t know. 

Snapchat does not offer an open news feed where unvetted publishers or individuals have an opportunity to broadcast hate or abusive content. Our Discover platform  for news and entertainment, and our Spotlight platform  for the community’s best Snaps, are curated and moderated environments. This means that content in Discover or Spotlight is provided either by our professional media partners, who agree to abide by strict Content Guidelines, or is user-generated content that is pre-moderated using human review, prior to being surfaced to large groups of Snapchatters. And Snapchat does not enable public comments which can facilitate abuse.

We have also made clear that we will not promote accounts that are linked to people who incite racism, whether they do so on or off our platform, most notably when first taking the decision to stop promoting President Trump’s account on Discover in June of 2020.

These guardrails help keep activity that violates our policies  from public areas of our platform. In 2018, Snap signed onto the European Commission’s Code of Conduct on hate speech, which, as part of its oversight process, collects reports from 39 NGOs specializing in reporting online hate. In the Commission’s two most recent reports on compliance with the code, there were zero reports of hate speech on Snapchat. Our own transparency report shows that, for the UK during the latest six month reporting period, we took action against 6,734 accounts. The vast majority of this content concerned reported private Snaps, not on public content areas -- reducing any wider impact. 

We also work hard to combat illegal and harmful activity on the private communications side of Snapchat. We provide easy-to-use in-app reporting tools where Snapchatters can notify us about any illegal or harmful activity. Our global, 24/7 Trust & Safety team reviews reports and takes appropriate action against violating accounts. The team is trained to identify a variety of signals when it comes to racist language, including the use of emojis to represent racial slurs or stereotypes. We keep abreast of the use of emojis and other forms of expression such as text based captions to understand emerging trends that reflect potential abuse, and use this insight to constantly evolve our policies in this area.

There is of course more that we can do, including to educate our community, and we are currently working on a programme to elevate black British stories through the power of augmented reality. Our first initiative earlier this year was an augmented reality (AR) experience designed in partnership with Kick It Out and a collective of black creatives called Kugali to commemorate four of England's greatest black footballers.

Ultimately, there is no place on Snapchat for discrimination, racism or abuse. We will keep working hard to prevent this content from surfacing, and to take quick and effective action when it does occur.

-Henry Turnbull, Head of Public Policy UK & Nordics

Supporting the UK Government with its national vaccination drive

UK

It’s great to share our work with the United Kingdom (UK) government to support the UK National Health Service’s (NHS) ‘Every Vaccination Gives Us Hope’ campaign.  

Snapchat reaches over 90% of 13 to 24 year olds in the UK, and with our community playing such a key part of the lives of young people, it’s vital that it is a source of accurate and trusted resources so they can stay safe, healthy and informed. 

As the COVID-19 vaccine is now available to all adults over the age of 18 in the UK, it’s important for Snapchatters to have access to trusted and accurate information  With that in mind, we have expanded ‘Here For You’ - our in-app mental health and wellbeing resource - dedicated to the latest Coronavirus guidance to include expert resources from the NHS about the vaccine.

In addition, we have launched creative tools in collaboration with the UK Government - including stickers, lenses and filters - available for Snapchatters to use that allow them to share the latest guidance from the NHS and encourage Snapchatters to share their vaccine status with friends and family.

Finally, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Snap Star account, Snapchatters submitted questions to be answered by medical experts Dr. Kiren Collison, the interim Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England and Dr. Karen Raj, a doctor with the NHS. The Q&A sessions are available to watch on the Prime Minister’s profile.

We continue to explore new ways we can collaborate with credible partners to help support the health and wellbeing of our Snapchat community.

To learn more about the vaccine in the U.K, please visit: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine 

- Stephen Collins, Sr. Director of Public Policy

Snap’s Latest Transparency Report

Snap Transparency

At Snap, our goal is to design products and build technology that nurtures and supports real friendships in a healthy, safe and fun environment. We are constantly working to improve the ways we do that — from our policies and Community Guidelines, to our tools for preventing, detecting and enforcing against harmful content, as well as initiatives that help educate and empower our community. 

We are committed to providing more transparency about the prevalence of content that violates our guidelines, how we enforce our policies, how we respond to law enforcement and government requests for information, and where we seek to provide more insight in the future. We publish transparency reports twice a year to provide insight into these efforts, and are also committed to making these reports more comprehensive and helpful to the many stakeholders who care deeply about online safety and transparency.

Today we’re releasing our transparency report for the second half of 2020, which covers the period of July 1 - December 31 of that year, which you can read in full here. As with our previous reports, it shares data about violations globally during this period; the number of content reports we received and enforced against across specific categories of violations; how we responded to requests from law enforcement and governments; and our enforcements broken down by country.

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve our transparency efforts, this report also includes several new elements. For the first time, we are sharing our Violative View Rate (VVR) which is the proportion of all Snaps (or views) that contained content that violated our guidelines. During this period, our VVR was 0.08 percent, which means that out of every 10,000 views of content on Snap, eight contained content that violated our guidelines. Every day, more than five billion Snaps are created using our Snapchat camera on average. During the second half of 2020, we enforced against 5,543,281 pieces of content globally that violated our guidelines. 

Additionally, our report shares new insights about our enforcement against false information globally — an effort that was especially important as the world continued to battle a global pandemic, and efforts to undermine democratic institutions. During this time frame, we took action against 5,841 pieces of content and accounts for violations of our guidelines prohibiting the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories that can cause harm. 

We have always believed that when it comes to harmful content, it isn’t enough just to think about policies and enforcement, platforms need to think about their fundamental architecture and product design. Across our app, Snapchat limits virality, which removes incentives for harmful and sensationalized content, and opportunities to organize. Our report shares more details about our product design decisions, and our work to promote factual news and information to Snapchatters. 

Going forward, we are focused on providing greater insights in future reports, such as expanding on subcategories of violating data. We are constantly evaluating how we can strengthen our comprehensive efforts to combat harmful content and bad actors, and are grateful to the many security and safety partners who are always helping us improve.

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

Blog Asset

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 

White House Covid 2

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

MHAM Bitmoji

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