Last Updated on 25th November 2020

4 min read

Snapchat has released its new Spotlight feature to its 67 million daily active users. In this article, our team of online safety experts unpack the risks and functionality of the new feature and provide practical advice for empowering and protecting the young people in your care on this popular platform.

How does Spotlight work?

Spotlight looks to be close to the format of TikTok and Instagram’s Reels and is set to work similarly. But the plan for rewarding the best content is likely to attract and encourage a surge of attention and engagement with the new feature.

Here’s how it works:

  • Spotlight videos can be accessed to the right of the bottom navigation bar on Snapchat
  • Users upload Snap videos the same way they would upload snaps to send to their friends or story, by selecting to send to ‘Spotlight’
  • Videos can be up to 60 seconds long, and anyone over the age of 13 can upload them, but users must be 16 or older to make money
  • Users can add text, filters, GIF, Topics (Hashtags) and music to customise their videos 
  • The Spotlight section of the Snapchat App will feed users content based on algorithms of their past history and interaction 
  • Uploads cannot be watermarked, meaning people cannot upload their viral videos from TikTok or Instagram’s Reels
  • Spotlight videos currently do not have comment sections, and Snapchat will moderate video content to maintain their community guidelines 
  • Accounts on Spotlight will be private by default 
  • Users can share their spotlight videos with other Snap contacts and as links on other platforms 

©Snap Inc.

What are the risks ?

The majority of Snapchat users are young people. With around 57% of 15 – 25-year-olds using the platform, this feature could further increase the popularity of Snapchat with young people.

The company’s plan to share $1 million per day among users with the most viral content is likely to encourage many more children and young people to join the platform and use the new feature.

Snapchat’s massive cash incentive may also catch the attention of the 17% of 11-to-16-year olds in the UK who want to be social media influencers.

Our online safety experts have identified the following risks associated with the use of Spotlight:

  • Children and young people who are inspired to become social media influencers may feel pressured to do ‘whatever it takes’ to gain more followers, such as videos in less clothing or more personalised interaction with strangers/fans
  • Although Spotlight does not have a comments function, online bullies may still target users by screenshotting and reposting Spotlights alongside abusive text
  • Children and young people may overshare on Spotlight to get more fans, sharing personal information like their hometown or their birthday
  • When users upload Spotlight videos, their location may be shared via the Snap Map
  • The Spotlight section feeds users videos using algorithms meaning they may be overexposed to certain forms of negative content
  • When users upload Spotlight videos, their location may be shared via the Snap Map. Although Spotlight content is moderated, this feature could be misused to create and share harmful content

  • Children and young people may spend long periods of time on Snapchat in attempts to ‘become viral’ 

Our Advice

If a child or young person in your care is using Spotlight, it’s important to gather the facts and have an open and honest conversation to empower them to be safer on the platform.

You can find our top tips below: 

  • Support them to understand the importance of protecting their personal information that may make them identifiable to strangers, remember this includes things such as school uniforms and birthdays

  • Have a positive conversation with children and young people about maintaining healthy screen time habits

  • If a child or young person is using Spotlight in an attempt to make money and become a social media influencer, talk about the limits of their content

  • Check that they can identify their team of trusted adults, by asking them who they would speak to if something was worrying them on or offline

  • Use Our Safety Centre to talk through Snapchat safety and privacy settings with children and young people in your care

Resources

  • To report a Spotlight video – use our guidance for iOS and Android devices

  • For Snapchat privacy and safety settings, log on to Our Safety Centre

  • To understand how algorithms work on social media, read our recent article here

  • To learn more about the world of social media influencers, click here

  • For more information on Online Trolls, read our article here

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