Snapchat’s New Anti Bullying & Sextortion Features Here to Protect Our Teens

Snapchat, the social app used by over 8 million Aussies each month, has just announced the release of some new features to protect users from online harm including cyberbullying and sextortion, and we’re all for it!

A growing crime in Australia (and overseas), Sextortion is growing at a rate of knots. These new features are intended to make it more difficult for strangers to connect with people.

Teen using Snapchat with security improvements
Over 8 million Aussies use snapchat each month. Source: Supplied

New features for added teen protection

Designed to reinforce the real-life connections that make Snapchat unique, the new  suite of tools includes:

  • Enhanced friending protections
  • Simplified location-sharing
  • Blocking improvements, and
  • Expanded in-app warnings

Ben Au, Public Policy Lead ANZ, at Snap Inc. explained they’ve worked very diligently to fight back against sextortion right across the Snapchat platform.  This has ranged from designing the app to not display public friends lists, which could be used to facilitate sextortion schemes, to not allowing teens to be messaged by anyone they haven’t added as a friend, or are not in thier phone contacts.

We think that’s pretty impressive.

“Our newest safeguards are all about supporting real and genuine connections, empowering young people to make smart choices, and ensuring that every Snapchatter feels secure and confident while using our platform,” Ben Au, Snap Inc.

New Snapchat Features To Protect Users

Not Your Average Social Media App

Ben went on to say, “Snapchat is designed differently to traditional social media, with a focus on helping people connect with friends they know in real life, and we’re always working to make Snapchat an even more fun – and safe – place to do just that. As new online harms continue to emerge, we’re committed to developing ways to protect our community against these risks, especially with the safety of young Australians in mind.”

“Creating an environment that prioritises the safety, privacy, and wellbeing of Australians remains a priority for the company, and in particular that of teens,” he continued.

Expanded In-App Warnings to help with sextortion

Last November, Snapchat started showing a warning when teens get messages from people they don’t know well or aren’t already friends with. This helps teens think twice about talking to strangers and encourages them to connect only with people they trust.

Since then, over 12 million users have used this feature to block others. Impressive!

Snapchat is adding more pop-up warnings too.

Teens will get alerts if:

  • They get messages from people who they have already blocked and who have subsequently opened a new account with the aim to continue harassing them. In this case Snapchat will recognise it and warn them it’s the same person.
  • If the message comes from a region where the teen’s network isn’t typically located, therefore reducing the risk of strangers from random places infiltrating their network.

mum centralEnhanced Friending Protections

Right now, teens don’t show up in Snapchat’s Quick Add or Search unless they have several mutual friends with someone. To make it even safer, Snapchat is adding new rules to stop strangers from finding and adding teens.

With the new updates, if a teen gets a friend request from someone they don’t share friends with, and that person has a history of logging in from scam-prone areas, Snapchat will block the request.

This works both ways, whether the teen sent or received the request. These changes help protect teens from sneaky sextortion scams by shady users often from outside Australia.

Blocking Improvements to Prevent Bullying

Snapchat has always let users block anyone they don’t want to talk to anymore. But sometimes, people who get blocked create new accounts and keep trying to contact the same person. (This has happened to my daughter on multiple occasions.)

To stop this kind of harassment, Snapchat is updating its blocking tools. If teens block someone, it will also block new friend requests from other accounts created on the same device.

Snapchat In App Warning
Source: Supplied

Simplified Location-Sharing and Additional Reminders

Snapchat regularly reminds all users, including teens, to check their security and privacy settings and only share their location with friends. Now, Snapchat will remind users more often to check which friends can see their location on the Snap Map. They’ve also made it easier to manage location sharing by simplifying how users pick which friends can see their location.

With these updates, users can easily see who they’re sharing their location with, update their settings, or remove their location from the map all in one place. Location sharing is off by default, so users must choose to turn it on, and they can only share their location with people already on their friend list, not with everyone on Snapchat.

Snapchat simplified location sharing
Source: Supplied

Snapchat’s latest updates aim to make the app even safer, particularly for teens. With new tools like advanced chat warnings, stricter friend request controls, and easier location-sharing settings, Snapchat is working hard to protect users from online dangers like sextortion and bullying. These features help ensure that teens only connect with people they know and trust while keeping their personal information secure. Snapchat is reinforcing its commitment to providing a safe environment for all its users to enjoy.

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Avatar of Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

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