On Wednesday, Snap, Inc. unveiled a revamp of its Snapchat app that draws a hard line between content from your friends and content from professional media organizations.
However, the new changes, teased during the company's recent third quarter financial results, won't impact the app's camera and augmented reality effects, which will remain at the center of the app. What users will need to get used to is a new interface in which the left panel is devoted to chats and content from friends, with content from publishers, creators, and the Snapchat community presented on the right.
With the change, Snapchat is also making an attempt to distance itself from social media companies like Facebook and the "fake news" phenomenon associated with such services by emphasizing personal communication over shared links. This makes the camera, along with AR content that users generate, a key component of the company's path forward.
"The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media," wrote Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel in an opinion piece on Axios on Wednesday. "We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post."
Spiegel also appeared in a rare video (below) in which he directly addressed users in an effort to explain exactly how the changes will impact users.
Nevertheless, some insiders believe that attempting to reverse the trend of users consuming an often indistinguishable mix of social media shares from friends (often riddled with unconfirmed rumors) and traditional news media (ideally, information that has been vetted and verified) would require a seismic shift in how users operate.
"Not sure you can separate social from media when I get so much news from articles my friends share," tweeted Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of The Information, following the announcement.
According to TechCrunch, the updated app will begin reaching some users on Friday, with a wider rollout to all users occurring over the next few weeks.