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Snapchat's Enhanced Safety Features: Protecting Teens from Sextortion Scams

02.07.2024 03:00 AM
Snapchat's Enhanced Safety Features: Protecting Teens from Sextortion Scams
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Snapchat's Enhanced Safety Features: Protecting Teens from Sextortion Scams
Snapchat is intensifying its efforts to safeguard teenagers from the growing threat of sextortion scams. On Tuesday 25th, the company unveiled a series of new safety features designed to make it more challenging for unknown individuals to contact teens on the platform.
Key New Feautures

1. Warning Pop-ups: Snapchat will now show expanded warning pop-ups when a teen receives a message from someone not in their contacts or without mutual friends. Additional warnings will appear if the sender has been blocked or reported by others or if they are from a region not linked to the teen’s contacts, signaling a potential scammer.

2. Blocking Unwanted Friend Requests: The app will prevent friend requests to and from teens if there are no mutual friends and the request comes from regions commonly associated with scammers.

3. Preventing Repeat Offenders: Snapchat’s blocking tools have been upgraded to ensure that when a user is blocked, any new accounts created from the same device will also be automatically blocked, preventing scammers from easily bypassing blocks.

4. Location Settings Reminders: More frequent reminders about location settings on Snapchat’s “Snap Map” feature will be introduced. Users will have easy access to update their location settings, remove their location from the map, and customize which friends can see their location, all in one place on the app.

These measures are part of Snapchat's broader initiative to enhance the safety of its young users and to combat the financial sextortion scams that have been increasing across social media platforms. Sextortion scams typically involve bad actors, often overseas, who gain the trust of young users, coax them into sending explicit photos, and then demand money to keep these images private. These scams have led to severe consequences, including suicides.

Jacqueline Beauchere, Snap’s Global Head of Platform Safety, emphasized the importance of these new features in a statement to CNN, highlighting their role in protecting teens from online harms and reinforcing the genuine connections that make Snapchat unique.

Snapchat's announcement follows similar moves by other social media giants. In April, Meta introduced features to combat sextortion and to inform users when they’ve interacted with individuals involved in such scams. The CEOs of Meta, Snap, and other social media companies have also testified before a Senate subcommittee on their efforts to protect young users from online exploitation.

With these new safety features, Snapchat is taking significant steps to protect its teenage users from online threats, particularly sextortion scams. These updates build on existing measures, such as the “Family Center” for parental supervision and mechanisms for removing age-inappropriate content. As the landscape of social media continues to evolve, Snapchat’s commitment to user safety remains a top priority, ensuring that the platform remains a safe space for genuine connections.
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