Snapchat reacts to concerns with new “After Dark” feature

National News
Snapchat's new Cosmo After Dark channel-846624087

Social media app Snapchat has launched a new channel that promises “x-rated” content and other controversial features.

It’s called “Cosmo After Dark.”

The online watchdog writer who first sounded the alarm calls it “a new level of inappropriate.” 

“Sex parties, music you should have sex to right now,” is what internet safety expert Chris McKenna of the website Protect Young Eyes says the channel promises and has led to parents flooding social media feeds with posts of concern. 

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“Cosmo After Dark” is created by longtime women’s magazine Cosmopolitan that has a history of being provocative with it’s publication. Cosmo’s Snapchat channel showcases articles on “the best porn sites for women,” games called “Sex Truth or Dare,” and the one feature that has parents most concerned: a weekly “x-rated” live edition.  

“We became aware of the release of the ‘Cosmo After Dark’ segment within the Discover section, which has been fraught with sexualized content for years. That’s no secret but this is a new level of it,” said McKenna speaking to 7News from his Michigan-based office.

The new adult content channel also led McKenna to write an online article warning parents of teen “Snapchatters.”

“It’s blown up the website. It’s been averaging 100,000 views a day since Sunday and it seems to have really struck a nerve,” McKenna said. 

McKenna founded “Protect Young Eyes” to equip parents with “know-how” on tech trends.

He said this is not the first time he’s turned his attention to Snapchat.  

“There’s this little bit of uncertainty. I think there are things in there that [parents] just don’t want to know about but [they] don’t quite know what to do about it or control it,” he said.    

It’s a sentiment shared by Deveren Werne, a partner at Liquid Video Technologies of Greenville. 

“I’ve had to dig in for parents before and it’s not pretty,” said Deveren. 

Deverne said the Cosmo channel is within Snapchat’s rules and regulations.

“You would think it would be part of their policy like on Facebook or other social channels but the thing is with something like Cosmo they’re paying for the privilege of broadcasting to that type of viewer and that type of mass audience,” Deverne said.

McKenna said parents should use this as a means to having a heart to heart conversation with their underage “Snapchatters.” 

“Use it as an opportunity to uncover things that may be in the heart and mind of your child. There’s nothing more that will tell you more about the concerns and thoughts going on in your kid like how they use technology,” he said.

7News received this statement from Snapchat late Wednesday afternoon: 

Statement from a Snap spokesperson:

“We work hard to be a responsible source of news, entertainment and information for our community, and understand the legitimate concerns parents have about what content their children consume. Last year, we strengthened guidelines for our media partners to label anything that might be too mature for younger Snapchatters. In this case, Cosmo was required from the start to age-gate their “Cosmo After Dark” edition for accounts registered as under the age of 18, which means those Snapchatters would not have had access to this content.” 

Snap also stated:

“Last year, we updated our Content Guidelines for all media partners on our Discover platform to empower them to do their part to keep Snapchat an informative, factual, and safe environment for everyone and give Snapchatters more choices in how they view and engage with content that may be sensitive.”

“As part of these updated guidelines, we also rolled out “age-gating” tools that will allow publishers to “gate” content that might be too sensitive for younger Snapchatters under the age of 18. These new age-gating tools will empower publishers to make their own judgements about when their content might not be suitable for Snapchatters under 18.  While publishers will have the option to use these tools to age-gate any content, they will be required to age-gate content that contains:

  • Sexualized imagery and other indecent, obscene, or profane content that is inappropriate for users under age 18
  • Content that a news exception has been applied to based on a publisher’s editorial judgment, but they feel might be inappropriate for Snapchatters under the age of 18.

The statement continues:

“We only work with trusted and credible media companies and it’s important that they have editorial independence over the content they publish or produce on our platform. That’s why we try to give them as clear and specific content guidelines as possible — and continue to update these guidelines regularly to ensure they are as effective as possible.”

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