Sunday, July 21, 2024

Snapchat is getting critical new security features. Here’s what’s new

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Snapchat friend request safeguardsSnapchat friend request safeguards Snapchat

Snapchat is taking privacy more seriously, with the company announcing a suite of new security features on Tuesday. These include updates to expanded in-app warnings, enhanced friend protections, simplified location sharing, and blocking improvements. The move appears to be in response to a recent report by Bloomberg of predators targeting teens on the app, along with news of multiple teen suicides.

The company first introduced the Family Center in 2022, but since then, it’s continued to face criticism for not taking more comprehensive steps to safeguard minor users. It seems Snapchat is finally taking this to heart and doing something to address the problem.

In-app warnings

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Diving into some of the new features, in-app warnings were first introduced in November, providing a pop-up warning when a teen receives a message from someone they aren’t mutual friends with or have on their contact list. Snapchat is now expanding this feature to also show a warning message when they get contacted by someone who has been blocked or reported by other users or comes from a region outside of the teen’s network

Expanded friend protections

In a similar vein, Snapchat is expanding on friend protections by preventing the delivery of a friend request entirely when it comes from someone the teen doesn’t have mutual friends with. This applies whether the request is sent by the teen or another person. Again, this expands on a feature that was previously introduced where teens were prevented from being suggested for Quick Add or Search unless they had multiple mutual connections. The big target here, according to Snapchat, is to limit sextortion scams that target vulnerable underage people.

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Simplified location sharing

Snapchat is also taking measures to simplify sharing. By default, location sharing is off on Snap Map, and that will remain the same. The company will now add more frequent reminders to keep users up to date on the friends who are sharing their locations and provide customization options to limit or permit which friends can see their location. In theory, this should still allow for effective coordination for meetups while improving safety. Users will also not be able to broadcast their location to the entire Snapchat community anymore.

Blocking improvements

Finally, there’s blocking. Snapchat users have always been able to block people, but now people who get blocked will also be prevented from sending new friend requests from other accounts created on the same device. Previously, Snapchat users were able to create new accounts to circumvent this and continue sending harassing or abusive messages. This loophole is now closed.

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