- Parent company Snap is looking at possible changes to Snapchat that would make public posts stay in the app longer or never disappear, undoing the key disappearing feature of the image-messaging app, unnamed sources told Reuters. Snapchat also is considering whether to reveal the identities of users who make those public posts.
- The possible changes would only affect photos and video shared to "Our Story" collections, which shares content beyond a user's friend network. Users would still have the option to delete posts at any point. However, one source told Reuters that celebrity content could be made permanent.
- Feedback from Snap's four news discovery platform partners could be behind the proposed changes, per the report. The platforms have said that the disappearing, anonymous public Stories are difficult to embed or cite into articles. Snap declined to comment on the plans.
Snap's possible changes to the "Our Story" section of the popular social media app may help the company generate another source of ad revenue, as rival Twitter has done. If Snapchat Stories embedded outside of the app lasted longer, the company could potentially earn more advertising revenue for the extend time ads are viewable.
"The advertising would be visible for longer, and I could see advertisers paying more for it," eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson told Reuters.
The biggest risk that Snap faces from making changes to its app is alienating more of its user base just one year after its redesigned app spurred an online protest and caused many users to flee the app. Snap has struggled with a shrinking user base, mounting losses and executive turnover amid more intense competition from larger rival Facebook. The departure of CFO Tim Stone after less than a year on the job may worry advertisers — especially those seeking to reach Snapchat's core audience of millennials and teens — about Snap's financial viability.
In deciding whether to make snaps permanent, Snap also must carefully consider how it handles user privacy amid the data-sharing scandals that have plagued Facebook over the past year. Snap will need to ensure it gets informed consent from users to reveal their identities in the "Our Story" section. To make posts permanent, users also must agree to give up direct control of the images and videos they post publicly, which may discourage people from sharing content in the first place.
The proposed changes come at a turbulent time for the social media company. Despite growing its quarterly revenue by 43%, Snapchat's user base fell for a second straight quarter, with Snap forecasting more declines ahead in its Q3 2018 earnings report. Snap is looking for a new CFO after Tim Stone announced his departure in a regulatory filing on Jan. 15. Chief accountant Lara Sweet will serve as the interim finance head after Stone officially departs on Feb. 5, when Snap next reports its earnings. Stone joined Snap in May after working at Amazon for about 20 years.