After weeks of hints, Snapchat is releasing a reorganized and redesigned app today in the hopes of fending off the encroaching Facebook behemoth. It’s not too different from the Snapchat you already know, but it does signal a lot of the more philosophical differences that define the company.
The big pitch for the new Snapchat redesign is “separating the social from media” (get it?). What co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel means by this is a not-so-veiled shot at the Facebook News Feed, which has become an unappealing stew of sponsored posts, branded videos, misleading news stories and — tucked somewhere in between all of that — a few updates from your actual friends. The new Snapchat layout still opens up to the camera, but that camera acts as a buffer between a friends list on the left and the Discover page, the one full of news and brands and listicles and tabloid gossip, on the right.
In an editorial for Axios this morning, Spiegel wrote, “The Snapchat solution is to rely on algorithms based on your interests — not on the interests of ‘friends’ — and to make sure media companies also profit off the content they produce for our Discover platform. We think this helps guard against fake news and mindless scrambles for friends or unworthy distractions.”
Implied in all of this is, if you don’t want to deal with all of the corporate bullshit when checking your friends’ Stories, you won’t have to anymore. (Anecdotally, as someone who’s tried to stick to a strict policy of only following people I know on Instagram, there are merits to this approach.) The friends page has also been reorganized with a new sorting algorithm prioritizing the people that Snapchat thinks you want to contact most.
The update is rolling out starting today. In the meantime, if you want to see Spiegel talk about it in video form, here you go.