Young users gone in a snap

Young people are deleting Snapchat in record numbers sooner than expected. Picture: Adam Foster

By ADAM FOSTER 

Students are voting with their thumbs to join the three million Snapchat users who deleted the mobile application in the last quarter.

“It used to be unique but it’s recently just morphed into a different version of every other app,” student Ebony Hartridge-Linton said.

Student Sebastian Gunadi said the app was trying too hard to force change.

“It’s a very minor part, but the Bitmoji addition to the app felt pointless,” he said.

Snap Inc. CFO Tim Stone said last month that the number of daily users worldwide had dropped from 191 million to 188 million.

In June this year, 6.3 million Australians used Snapchat – well below the nine million unique users of Instagram and the 15 million people who logged into Facebook for the month.

It is not the first time a social media platform has lost popularity, but it is surprising to some that this has come soon after Snapchat’s user increase of 67.2 per cent in 2016. 

Monash University senior lecturer Dr Brady Robards, who has been researching the social media patterns of young people, said Snapchat’s main traction was the intimacy and privacy in content-sharing.

“Snapchat was unique in providing a platform in controlling audiences and networks by having a smaller group of friends than Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

But as the digital age generation evolves, Snapchat has found itself trailing its competitors.

Photo-sharing app Instagram has introduced a “stories” feature similar to Snapchat’s, with the company announcing 400 million people used the function in June.

Embed from Getty Images

Fashion blogger Susie Lau posts an Instagram story at a haute couture fashion show – the influential blogger was one of 400 million people who used the function in June. 

“Snapchat refuses to be bought, which is good for creating options and diversity, and it avoids a monopolisation, but we’ll have to see how it competes now with some users leaving the app because of similarities,” said Dr Robards.

Changes turning consumers away is not uncommon with social media platforms.

“Facebook introduced the newsfeed that was based on algorithms and the timeline rather than a profile and those big changes turned some users away,” Dr Robards said..

Another similarity Snapchat shares with Facebook is the fall in popularity as privacy concerns have caused some people to stop using the app.

Ms Hartridge-Linton said Snapchat’s map and third-party photo-saving apps showed “it didn’t respect user privacy”.

Dr Robards said this might worry users but it did not drive them all away.

“There are privacy concerns … but not enough people leave because of this,” he said.

“It happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and people stayed with them.”