Snapchat’s update last month gave us the “Discover” feature, which has made news reading available directly on the app. This feature, found by clicking a small circle at the top right of the “Stories” screen, includes news outlets such as CNN, Yahoo! News and ESPN. Popular culture magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail and People as well as less conventional platforms like Comedy Central and Food Network have also found their way into this feature.
Each outlet has its own circle with its logo inside, which if clicked, brings up that outlet’s stories for the day. For instance, when you click on the Food Network logo, different recipes accompanied by glossy graphics and sound effects would enter your screen. Then, you can swipe left to get to the new stories. If you swipe down, then the recipe would be explained in greater detail. Each day brings new stories and recipes.
The “Discover” feature, for all intents and purposes, seems to be a completely valid and reliable medium for news, insofar as you can trust the platforms featured. Some of the stories are, in fact, credible and reliable. For instance, Wednesday, Feb. 11, Yahoo! News featured a story on Snapchat about the closing of the US embassy in Yemen that was reported like any other reputable news story would be.
But for every newsworthy article on Yahoo! News, there is a dumbed-down, sensationalized story by Cosmopolitan or People. For every article discussing the political fabric of Yemen, you have three different sources for horoscopes. What this feature really does, then, is allow you a condensed, singular place to access news or other reading and entertainment outlets in which you might be interested.
Perhaps the most appealing part of the “Discover” feature is that it’s free and easy to access. Snapchat is a wildly popular app with 100 million monthly users, and this feature, although simple and surface-level, may very well tap into a whole new readership that would otherwise not access the material.
Snapchat has thus created a platform with a diverse set of news outlets that appeal to many different kinds of people. I would not recommend it for, say, in-depth research, but for a quick glimpse at current events or popular culture, it’s effective.