Snapchat includes new features to protect against sextortion

03 Jul 2024 UK SIC

Snapchat has announced some new features aimed to support users against sextortion and other online harms. These updates include in-app warnings, updated friend request protections, location-sharing options, and improved blocking functionalities. Take a look at each feature below:

New Updates

In-App Warnings

One of more prominent features of the Snapchat’s safety measures is the wider inclusion of in-app warnings. Initially launched last November, these warnings alert teens when they receive messages from individuals who are not mutual friends or contacts. The updated warnings now aim to improve protections against scammers by notifying users if a message comes from someone reported or blocked by others.

Friend Request Protections

Snapchat has enhanced its friending protections so that teens will no longer appear in “Quick Add” or “Search” unless they share multiple mutual friends with the searcher. Friend requests from users without mutual connections and with a history linked to scamming activities will be blocked, making it more challenging for scammers to connect with teens.

Snapchat states that these updates are part of their ongoing efforts to combat sophisticated sextortion scams. They are also working with other platforms and conducting research to tackle various forms of online harm.

Location Sharing

Snapchat is introducing simplified location-sharing options and additional account security reminders. Users will receive more frequent prompts to review their security and privacy settings and reminders to update who can see their location. Location sharing on Snap Map remains off by default, requiring users to opt-in, and there is no option to share locations outside of friends.

Improved Blocking

The app’s blocking tools are also getting an upgrade to help prevent against bullying and harassment. When a user is blocked, any friend requests sent from accounts created on the same device will also be blocked, working towards a more robust defense against persistent offenders.

Staying Safe on Snapchat

Beyond these updates, there are various resources available to help users stay safe on Snapchat. SWGfL offers a comprehensive Snapchat Checklist, guiding users on privacy settings, age restrictions, blocking and deleting users, as well as managing location settings. This resource is invaluable for teachers, professionals, or parents aiming to protect young users.

Sextortion and Harmful Online Content

As sextortion cases rise, the UK Safer Internet Centre has developed guidance and resources to support schools, parents, carers, and professionals in responding to such incidents. This can be found in our latest online issue page relating specifically to Sextortion.

The Revenge Porn Helpline also offers support to adults (18+) in the UK affected by sextortion or intimate image abuse.

Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, is also a partner in the initiative, which helps prevent the sharing of intimate images across participating platforms. This initiative is a crucial resource for adults seeking to protect their privacy online.

For those over 13 in the UK seeking to report harmful content on social media, including Snapchat, Report Harmful Content provides advice and support. Additionally, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline assists professionals working with young people on online safety concerns.

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