A decade of suppressing photos, scandals and inventions



When Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy first launched Snapchat in the App Store in September 2011, it was an endangered photos app made by college kids that * definitely wasn’t * for sending. nudes. As of his tenth birthday this month, he has over 280 million daily users plus a stable of content from media brands and influencers. Its products have inspired many fleeting share impersonators, and investors currently believe parent company Snap, Inc. is worth more than $ 100 billion. What a decade!

However, not everything was smooth for the “Camera Company” which was the confusing way of Snapchat. filed for its initial public offering in 2017. The first scandals, due in part to the founding of the company by a brotherhood boy, will always be part of its history. Employees continued to feel the aftershocks of those early tremors, and the aftermath of operating in a tech industry dominated by white people and men, for years to come.

As inventive as Snap has been, it has recently shown that it is not exempt from answering the same question as all other social media startups: how can a business stay relevant when all other businesses compete. to attract the attention of users ?.

At its best and purest, Snapchat is all about playing and communicating with friends without the stress of building a digital identity. But can she carry these founding ideals into the future while learning from her problematic moments in the past?

From innovations to scandals, wins to losses, here are some defining highs and lows of a decade of Snapchat.

Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.
Credit: J. Emilio Flores / Corbis via Getty Images

High: Shake up social media by inventing an endangered photos app

Snapchat’s first value proposition is still one of its strongest: giving people a way to send photos to their friends (and, later, messages and videos), which disappear. The tradition Goes that ousted co-founder Reggie Brown (more on him in a second) came up with an app that would allow users to send self-erasing photos during a sexting conversation. The first version of the app was designed to minimize the ability of users to take screenshots. He also added the whimsical (or juvenile?) Ability to draw and write on those photos.

Low: fraternal vibrations and fraternal corporate culture

Today, Snapchat’s corporate mission statement says the app “empowers people to express themselves, live in the moment, explore the world, and have fun together,” and c it is very good that way. In contrast, in May 2012, the first date with a Wayback Machine snapshot for Snapchat.com, Snapchat touted the app as, well, pretty much what its early reputation might have made you believe: plenty of pictures of very young in not much (if any) clothing.



Credit: Snapchat / Wayback Machine

... and subtle

… and subtle

Credit: Snapchat / wayback machine

And then there is the story of Reggie Brown. Brown was one of Spiegel’s Kappa Sigma brothers at Stanford. After the alleged sexting convo, Brown says he came up with the idea for a photo deletion app in Spiegel. The couple then called on Bobby Murphy for his coding prowess. Soon after, Murphy and Spiegel left Brown in their dust as they moved to LA and officially launched Snapchat. In 2013, Brun continued the Snap brothers for not giving him credit for his intellectual property. Snap settled the litigation in 2014 and acknowledged Brown’s role as the originator of the idea of ​​’removing the photos app’. The company’s 2017 IPO revealed that Brown had raised nearly $ 158 million.

Reggie Brown’s ghost wasn’t the only relic from Spiegel’s Kappa Sig era that clung to Snapchat. Just as Snap was gaining momentum as an adult company profiled by New York Times, Gossipy published a bunch of emails from Spiegel about parties and fraternity events, involving – most infamously – a stripper pole. He’s the CEO, bitch!

High: make up stories and make the world a little smaller

Snapchat took its main idea further with Stories. First launched in 2013, the format hasn’t changed much: you post a photo or video to your Story, where it lives for 24 hours and then disappears. Your friends can watch the stories, and the heart of this more passive form of consumption was that you could see who was watching what you were posting. Want to show off what you’re doing to your crush without sending it straight to them? Just post it to your story and see if the view kicks in. No likes required.

Snap then came up with the idea of ​​making stories more common – and not just limited to friends – with the innovation of Our Story. In the beginning, just depending on the location, you could contribute to the history of your city. It was like an eye opener to see what people were doing in cities from Mumbai to Sao Paulo in near real time.

Today, there are still geographic stories, but there are also user-generated stories for events, around cultural themes, holidays, etc.

Weak: the overhaul of user elimination

After taking a little while to figure it out, Snapchat stories were all the rage for, essentially, the year 2015. But Snap was about to pay the bagpiper for apparently turning down the takeover offer of Mark Zuckerberg: Instagram owned by Facebook just copied the stories outright. Other companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more, would copy the format of the stories in subsequent years.

Snapchat needed a change, and not just because Instagram was steal his ideas. You had to start making money. Thus, in 2017, he unveiled a major overhaul of the app that introduced algorithmic content feeds for public content (published by media companies or in Our Stories) based on interest.

In a quarter, Snap lost 3 million users. Someone even started a Change.org petition demanding that the company backtrack. Stabilized growth by 2019, but The Redesign still scares Snapchat users around the world.

High: making us all puke rainbows

BASIC. This word, in all caps, was one of the first Snapchat filters. That’s it. And yet, using it was new, fun… funny !? Snapchat launched location-based filters and location-based filters (one of the first location filters was the appearance of the silver rain in Las Vegas). This basic idea turned into RA filters, with the cute dog and rainbow faces that kicked off a thousand selfies (and Instagram imitators). Now, with a “creation studio” which allows anyone with technical and artistic know-how to manufacture glasses, it is a central element of the company’s activity.

Weak: an ugly history of racial insensitivity

The ability to change faces with AR has led to race-insensitive filters. For example, a Bob Marley Filter basically black-faced users, and some have described another filter which gave users cartoonish flat, slanted eyes like a “yellow face” shape.

This poor judgment has been linked to diversity issues and a ‘whitewashed’ culture at Snapchat, as one former employee put it: In 2020, Mashable posted a racial prejudice account in the team in charge of curating Stories from 2015 to 2018.

Snapchat conducted an investigation and concluded that the reported issues did not constitute a “generalized pattern”. However, blind spots persist: As recently as June 2020, Snapchat released a filter in honor of Juneteenth with text urging users to “smile to break the chains.” After some Twitter users called out the filter for racial insensitivity on a holiday commemorating the end of slavery, of all things, Snapchat apologized and removed the filter.

High: smart glasses, but make them cute

With the rise of Oculus, rumors continue to circulate about mixed reality Apple Headphones, and the beginning of Facebook’s new Ray Ban smart glasses, the potential of smart glasses is focused on the potential. As with most things Facebook does, however, Snapchat did it first, with Eyeglasses.

By “that” we mean “cool” glasses with technical capabilities: the glasses integrate the Snapchat application, and the company is working on more AR integrations. Facebook glasses work much like an Apple Watch in that they can make calls and listen to music. Glasses haven’t made it into the mainstream, but it’s just a reminder that Snapchat entered this space before everyone else. Well, except Google with Google Glass. Corn…. it’s a all the mess all alone.

Low: copy TikTok with Spotlight

While it hasn’t been clear from this list yet, a Snapchat theme over the past decade has been having some awesome inventions ripped off by other social media companies (usually Facebook) and then inventing something. something else cool. On this list, we haven’t even mentioned the disappearance of messages in Snapchat. Chat bar, or acquisition and popularization by Bitmoji, than Facebook and Apple each copy, respectively. Snap Maps, Minis, a creepy Bitmoji TV show, and other fun features are all extremely original.

That’s why it was such a disappointment when Snapchat launched Spotlight, a portal within Snapchat that mimics TikTok. At first, he was paying up to a million dollars a day for viral content; As the money has shrunk content creators too.

Snapchat still has a lot to do: go shopping with AR! Location-based artistic filters! Discover addicting and fun shows! But he is no longer the new kid on the block. So we’ll have to wait and see what the next decade has in store for us. Unlike his photos, he is not in danger of disappearing.


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