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Snapchat alters popular functions
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Snapchat, a mobile application developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, received an update on Jan. 27 that expanded its list of functions. While previous versions of Snapchat allowed users to transfer photos to other users for a limited time, the latest update includes “Discover,” a way for users to rapidly browse news articles that are randomized according to their preferences. In addition, users can swipe through the stories in a gesture akin to flowing through a bulletin board.

Even though Snapchat offered these new functions, the update also retracted the key “Best Friend” feature due to copyright issues. Because it had previously been a cornerstone of the application that enabled users to browse through other users’ most frequented contacts, the removal of the feature angered some users.

“A lot of people are angry because [of the removal], and they should be,” Alex Cho (11) said. “The best friend feature was a way for many users to use the application and socialize, and removing that made Snapchat much more boring. One of the fun parts of the app is looking at what others are doing.”

Snapchat’s “Discover” utilizes sponsorships from companies and news programs to fund the stream of news stories. Various responses to the new update included highly positive reviews of the clean and minimalist design that appealed to users.

“The news story feature is indeed interesting, because it reveals that Snapchat is being monetized now,” said Yoon Lee (11), junior class president. “But the removal of the best friend feature is annoying because you can’t find out who your friends are talking to.”

Previous Snapchat updates have also included several security updates that strengthened the privacy of the application. Snapchat Inc. faced issues with privacy in 2014, especially following the various leaks of the NSA surveillance program. The January update gave Snapchat users no assurances of privacy from the government, but instead addressed privacy between users.

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