After negative press, Snapchat turns off controversial “Solar System” feature by default | TechCrunch

less than a week later “Wall Street Journal” reports On how a Snapchat feature called “Solar System” is exacerbating teen angst, the company has responded By adjusting the way the feature works. Today’s paid subscriber ranking system shows how close you are to your Snapchat friends by showing where you are in their solar system. For example, a friend with “Mercury” in the position will be someone you communicate with a lot, while “Uranus” is not so close.

Of course, online chatting doesn’t necessarily correlate to real-world relationships, and this feature can lead to hurt feelings when someone realizes they’re not as close to their friends as they thought.

Snap says it’s received feedback that knowing you’re close to someone can feel good, but knowing you’re not as close as you’d like can also feel bad.

“We’ve heard and understand that solar systems can make this feeling worse, and we want to avoid that,” the company announced in a post in its newsroom on Friday.

However, we are not removing the feature as much as Dangerous and Controversial Speed ​​Filters, Snap was sued for “negligent design”, but it only turned off the Solar System function by default. Snapchat+ subscribers can still turn on the option if they want.

“We hope this strikes the right balance between providing functionality that many users want while avoiding upsetting people who don’t want to use it,” the company explained.

Having it turned off by default may introduce some friction, but if teens already need the feature, they’ll just be looking around for a setting to turn it back on.

Snap believes that Solar System is not that popular, noting that less than 0.25% of the community uses this option. But since it’s only available to paying subscribers, it’s not surprising that the percentage is small. A more relevant statistic is how many Snapchat+ users have used Solar System or viewed the feature.

Although users can’t see who is closer or further away from their friends, finding out they aren’t number one can lead to some difficult conversations and even breakups, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Snap defended the feature, saying people want to know more about their friendships and features like Solar System provide “additional awareness and context.” But in reality, it’s a way to get young people (a group where social hierarchy is crucial) addicted to gaming. Use Snapchat.

The solar system feature is just one of Snapchat’s friend ranking systems. It also offers a private feature called Best Friends, which places the people you communicate with the most at the top of your contact list, complete with heart or smiley face emojis. The Wall Street Journal noted.

Another controversial feature called “Streaks,” a tool used by Snapchat users to encourage re-use of its app, provides a visual representation of how many consecutive days a user has stayed connected on the app. parents and familylegislators and regulators The addictive nature of the feature and psychological harm, Snap launched last year Ways to pause your winning streakIt also adds methods for users to recover lost Streaks.

While Snap promised in its blog post that it is “committed to mitigating as much as possible the potential drawbacks of online communication,” it has intentionally built features and tools that are at least open to it litigation and congress askif Not worse.

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