Snapchat’s New Update Triggers Revolt by Millions of Teens

A new update by the tech company has pissed off teens and celebs alike, and may put the fragile company in more trouble.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Last week Snapchat rolled out its biggest redesign since the app launched in 2011.

The company split the app into two sections, consolidating friend content on the left side, media content on the right, and installing a slew of other design changes.

Snapchat’s massive teen userbase is outraged at the update, and already desperately trying to get the old version back.

A fake tweet claiming that Snapchat would revert back to its old design if it got enough retweets received 1.3 million retweets as of Sunday afternoon and has become the sixth most retweeted tweet of all time.

Thousands of other teens spent the weekend tweeting about the update and begging the company to reconsider its choice. Many posted to their Stories about how much they hated the new redesign under the misguided notion that Snapchat might read their messages and reconsider the rollout.

A Change.org petition to “Remove the new Snapchat update” has received nearly 600,000 signatures.

“With the release of the new Snapchat update, many users have found that it has not made the app easier to use, but has in fact made many features more difficult,” the plea reads. “Many ‘new features’ are useless or defeat the original purposes Snapchat has had for the past years.”

“The new Snapchat update is cluttered, confusing, and inefficient,” Ava, a 17-year-old in San Carlos, California, told The Daily Beast. “It’s the most disliked update since the beginning of Snapchat. Although Snapchat is my most used app on my phone, I have been using it considerably less since the update and am seriously considering deleting the app.”

For teens and young twentysomethings, the Snapchat redesign is the first time a tech platform that they rely on daily has been radically altered overnight.

Many said they were left confused and reeling and weren’t even aware that Snapchat was planning an overhaul, they simply woke up one day to find the app looked completely different.

Hundreds if not thousands of teens lost their streaks, some of which had been maintained for hundreds of days, because they were confused at how to send snaps using the new interface.

“The amount of Snapchat streaks that were ruined because of this update is unbelievable,” one girl tweeted.

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A Snapchat “streak” occurs when users send snaps each other snaps consecutively for at least three days. Once a streak is established a small flame will appear next to a friend’s name and it will begin to count how many days you’ve maintained your steak for.

Kids go to insane lengths to maintain their streaks, waking up early to send them and giving friends access to their snap accounts to maintain streaks when their phones get taken away. Losing a particularly long streak can be devastating.

The streak is one of the few features Instagram has yet to clone, and ironically one of the few things that may force kids to remain on Snapchat and weather through the changes.

“If I didn’t have 34 snap streaks with multiple being over 100 days, I’d delete Snapchat because yo, the new update is trash,” one college student tweeted.

But while thousands of teens complained on Twitter and Instagram, other more intrepid users looked for a solution.

By Saturday afternoon a Snapchat “hack” began circulating, that some users claimed could restore the app to its former self.

Users traded screenshotted instructions written in the iPhone notes app instructing them to go through several complex steps involving deleting the app and resetting their login information by phone and more, in order to revert back to the old layout.

The hack works, but only for a time.

Even with auto app updates off, users may eventually be forced into the new Snapchat if they update their phone. Snapchat could also close the loophole any day.

There is no security risk or harm in reverting to the old version of Snapchat, but users could risk losing all their Memories.

Isaac Svobodny the 20-year-old in Minnesota who gave voice to the backlash with his viral tweet, said that even though most of the 1.3 million people who retweeted his message knew it was fake and that Snapchat never agreed to revert back for a certain number of retweets, he still views it as a successful way to get the message out and, hopefully, force the company to reconsider.

“All we can do it hope,” he told The Daily Beast. “I think this sends a good message to Snapchat. They will see this and see that if there’s over 1.3 million people who aren’t happy with the update they should try to make some modifications.

“Even though people know it’s fake I think it sends a good message that people are pissed off about it and want the old format back,” he added.

He noted that nearly all of his college-aged peers are angry about the update and that it’s been the big topic of conversation for the past week. “Everyone is pretty upset. No one likes the update, people on and off twitter. Everyone thinks its a mess.”

"A lot of teens have been super invested in Snapchat for a long time, but this update just makes the app difficult to use," said Maxine Marcus, the 17-year-old CEO and founder of The Ambassadors, a consulting company focused on teens. "I don't think teens will abandon snapchat, but I definitely think this will make us use it less."

Many young users are even discussing a full Snapchat boycott.

“If we all boycott snapchat, they could reverse the update??? like i know we’d all lose streaks but if they lose a shit ton of traffic, they’ll be a hell of a lot more motivated to reverse the update,” one user tweeted.

Svobodny said that he’s received tons of messages encouraging a boycott.

It’s not just teens who are upset about the redesign. Celebs like Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen have also spoken out against the update.

“How many people have to hate an update for it to be reconsidered?” Teigen tweeted to her nearly 10 million followers.

YouTube star Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD, said that he was so frustrated with the update that he is choosing to leave the platform.

He posted a YouTube video on Thursday titled “Dear Snapchat!” in which he outlines the problems he has with the app and why he thinks other influencers should quit.

Though all this outrage may seem like typical user backlash against change, Snapchat is in a volatile place and would suffer greatly if there was a mass exodus to other social apps like Instagram. Its user growth picked up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2017, yet it still has miles to go to catch up to other apps like Instagram.

One of Snapchat’s biggest criticisms has been that the app is too complicated to use.

While the majority of Snapchat’s young userbase could navigate the product just fine, older users struggled to comprehend the layout.

The app’s redesign seems to have frustrated and confused its active young user base, and only time will tell if it has made things easier for older users.

During Snap’s fourth quarter earnings call CEO Evan Spiegel noted that “content consumption and time spent in the redesigned application are disproportionately higher for users over the age of 35,” which seems promising.

Though it remains to be seen whether growth in older users comes at the expense of younger users. One young user noted that for the first time, she felt like an old person trying to use a piece of new technology. The layout just made no sense.

Older users in general may be more forgiving of change. After all, they’ve been through platform shifts before.

When Facebook rolled out radically redesigned profile pages in 2008 a “Petition against the new Facebook” gained more than a million members and hundreds of thousands of young users begged Zuckerberg to “Bring back old Facebook,” threatening to boycott the platform if it didn’t cede to their demands.

Facebook stayed the course and the platform now has more than 2 billion monthly active users.