Snapchat announced Tuesday a new option to limit friend suggestions for teens under 18 so that adult strangers cannot easily find those accounts, as part of its efforts to combat the “fentanyl epidemic,” as it has been accused of failing to prevent “drug-related content.”
With the rollout of the new feature, Snapchat won’t suggest 13- to 17-year-olds’ accounts to other users unless they have a certain number of mutual friends.
“While we know that drug dealers seek to connect with potential customers on platforms outside of Snapchat, we want to do everything we can to keep minors from being discovered on Snapchat by people who may be engaging in illegal or harmful behavior.” Snapchat said.
“We recently added a new safeguard to Quick Add, our friend suggestion feature, to further protect 13 to 17 year olds. In order to be discoverable in Quick Add by someone else, users under 18 will need to have a certain number of friends in common with that person — further ensuring it is a friend they know in real life. “ the company explained.
Snapchat said it will share more details on new parenting tools in the coming months to give parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat.
Social media giants have long been under scrutiny for the psychological effects on children and young adults. In September 2021, the WSJ reported that Facebook has repeatedly found that Instagram causes anxiety and depression in young people, and negatively affects body image, especially in young girls. After receiving heavy criticism from lawmakers and users, Facebook (now Meta) paused the Instagram Kids project. The company also announced in December that it will launch parental control tools earlier this year. TikTok also introduced new privacy changes for teens ages 13-17 in August.