Snapchat to allow parents to monitor who their kids are chatting with
Snap Inc (SNAP.N), owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, rolled out its first parental control tools on Tuesday, which will allow parents to see who their teens are talking to, but not the substance of their conversations.
The new feature called Family Center is launching at a time when social media companies have been criticised over a lack of protection for kids. In October, Snap and its tech peers TikTok and YouTube testified before US lawmakers accusing the companies of exposing young users to bullying or steering them toward harmful content.
Instagram also testified in a Senate hearing in December over children's online safety, after a Facebook whistleblower leaked internal documents that she said showed the app harmed some teens' mental health and body image.
Parents can invite their teens to join Family Center on Snapchat, and once the teens consent, parents will be able to view their kids' friends list and who they have messaged on the app in the past seven days. They can also confidentially report any concerning accounts.
However, parents will not be able to see private content or messages sent to and from their teens, said Jeremy Voss, Snap's head of messaging products, in an interview.
"It strikes the right approach for enhancing safety and well-being, while still protecting autonomy and privacy," he said.
Snap said it plans to launch additional features in the coming months, including notifications to parents when their teen reports abuse from a user.
Prior to Family Center, Snap already had some teen protection policies in place. By default, profiles for Snapchat users under 18 are private, and they only show up as a suggested friend in search results when they have friends in common with another user. Users must be at least 13 years old to sign up.
Snap's new tools follow a similar move by Instagram, which launched its Family Center in March, allowing parents to view what accounts their teens follow and how much time they spend on the app.
SNAP PLANS TO LAY OFF EMPLOYEES
Snap Inc is also in the early stages of planning layoffs, the Verge reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the plans.
The scope of the job cuts is currently unclear as managers are still planning it for their teams, the report said, adding that the Snapchat-owner has more than 6,000 employees.
Snap declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
The development comes as technology companies, crypto exchanges and financial firms cut jobs and slow hiring as global economic growth slows due to higher interest rates, red-hot inflation and an energy crisis in Europe.
Facebook-owner Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) cut plans to hire engineers by at least 30% this year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had told employees on June, and he warned them to brace for a deep economic downturn.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel also told employees in a memo in May that the company will slow hiring for this year and laid out a broad slate of problems.
Last month, the company painted a grim picture of the effects of a weakening economy on social media and declined to make a forecast in "incredibly challenging" conditions, sending its shares down 25%.