Is Snapchat AI Safe

Is Snapchat AI Safe?

Snapchat has become one of the most popular social media platforms, especially among young people. With over 265 million daily active users, Snapchatters share billions of photos and videos daily.

Is Snapchat ai safe? As Snapchat grows, they have started implementing more artificial intelligence (AI) into their apps. Snapchat uses AI for facial recognition in lenses, object recognition in camera searches, and even harassment detection in Snapchat stories. But is this AI safe and being used responsibly?

How Snapchat Uses AI

Here are some of the main ways Snapchat currently uses AI:

Lenses

Snapchat lenses allow users to overlay filters, effects, and augmented reality onto their snaps. AI and machine learning power the hundreds of lenses in Snapchat. Facial recognition AI seamlessly detects and maps out a person’s face to apply effects and filters. Further advancements even track facial expressions and movements to animate lenses in real-time.

Camera Search

In 2019, Snapchat introduced a camera search, which identifies objects seen through the camera and provides relevant content. For example, pointing your camera at a dog will bring up dog lenses and filters. Camera search relies on computer vision AI to quickly recognize and classify objects.

Spotlight Recommendations

Spotlight is Snapchat’s TikTok competitor, allowing users to share short videos. Behind the scenes, AI evaluates millions of videos and analyzes viewer preferences to recommend personalized content to each user.

Harassment Detection

Snapchat announced in 2021 that it will start leveraging AI to detect harassment in images and videos uploaded to Spotlight and public stories. This will help improve safety on the platform.

Chatbots

Snapchat has experimented with AI chatbots for customer service to answer users’ questions. While not officially released yet, they acquired an AI startup specialized in virtual assistants in 2021, signaling intent to develop AI chatbots.

Benefits of Snapchat’s AI

Benefits of Snapchat's AI

When used correctly, AI can provide many benefits for users and the Snapchat platform:

Enhanced Personalization

AI allows Snapchat to understand users’ preferences and habits, customizing the experience. Personalized lenses, filters, recommendations, and ads make the app more engaging.

Improved Safety

AI has the potential to help keep Snapchat safer by automatically detecting harassment, nudity, violence, scams, and other abusive behavior at scale. Human moderators can then review and take action.

Convenience

AI chatbots can provide 24/7 automated customer service, allowing users to get help quickly when needed. Camera search also offers a convenient way to find relevant content.

Creativity

AI’s facial and object recognition abilities allow for more advanced, realistic, and intriguing lenses and filters, opening up new avenues for creativity.

Revenue

By serving users with relevant and engaging ads informed by AI, Snapchat generates more revenue to continue developing and enhancing its products.

Concerns Around Snapchat’s Use of AI

While AI can provide many positives, there are also some potential risks and downsides that need to be considered:

Privacy Issues

The extensive facial recognition performed on Snapchat users raises privacy concerns. Snapchat’s lenses analyze detailed facial geometry, and users may not realize how much facial data AI algorithms collect and process.

Data Management

Snapchat stores billions of images and videos generated by users. Managing the privacy and security of this vast trove of data is an increasing challenge. Hackers and data misuse are major risks.

Algorithmic Bias

Like all AI, Snapchat’s algorithms can perpetuate biases if the training data is skewed in specific ways. For example, some users could wrongfully be flagged for harassment based on ethnicity or other attributes. Ongoing algorithm audits are required.

Addictiveness

The highly personalized and engaging experience driven by AI could contribute to increased social media addiction among vulnerable users like teens. Snapchat has a responsibility to consider addictiveness.

Spread of Misinformation

AI recommendation algorithms optimize for engagement. AI can promote questionable Snapchat content without proper safeguards, such as sensationalism, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.

Employment Impact

As AI takes on more roles, Snapchat will require fewer human moderators, support staff, and other roles. Snapchat should proactively transition displaced employees where possible.

Snapchat’s Efforts on AI Ethics and Safety

Snap recognizes the risks and is making efforts to ensure their use of AI is ethical and safe.

Here are some of their initiatives:

AI Principles

In 2021, Snapchat published its principles for ethically developing AI, which focused on concepts like transparency, accountability, impartiality, and putting people first.

Responsible Engineering Team

They formed a Responsible Engineering team tasked with maintaining ethical AI development. The team conducts ongoing audits of algorithms and product decisions.

Youth Wellbeing

For many years, Snapchat has consulted outside experts on youth wellbeing to advise on keeping products safe, especially for younger users. AI is part of these discussions.

Diversity and Inclusion

Snapchat aims to have diverse and inclusive teams building AI to reduce harmful bias. Their 2021 workforce was 6.1% Black and 14.2% Latinx.

Open Source Contributions

Snapchat contributes research and open-source tools to the greater AI community to advance the field ethically. For example, they open-sourced the SnapML machine learning framework.

The Future of Snapchat’s AI

The Future of Snapchat's AI: Is Snapchat AI Safe?

Here are some ways we can expect to see Snapchat continue expanding its use of AI responsibly:

  • More realistic and interactive augmented reality lenses leveraging improved computer vision AI.
  • We are expanding camera search abilities to identify more objects, landmarks, documents, plants, and animals.
  • We are integrating AI chatbots more deeply across the platform for customer service, conversations, and recommendations.
  • We are advancing AI’s ability to protect the platform from abuse while preserving privacy.
  • They are developing tools that give Snapchatters more visibility into how AI impacts their personal experience.
  • We are forming an oversight board of external experts to advise Snapchat on ethical AI use cases.
  • I am contributing Snapchat’s learnings on inclusive data sets and algorithms to the broader research community.

Overall, Snapchat is responsible for innovating using AI while mitigating risks through governance, ethics training, algorithm audits, and a diligent, responsible engineering team. Transparency will also be essential as Snapchat’s AI advances.

Conclusion

Snapchat has quickly become a daily platform for over 250 million users to connect, express themselves, and be entertained. The company has turned to AI technology to help enhance the experience through innovations like intelligent lenses, camera search, and Spotlight recommendations.

However, increasing AI use raises valid concerns about privacy, security, algorithmic bias, misinformation, youth safety, and other risks. Snapchat demonstrates a degree of responsibility for AI ethics for a consumer tech company. But there is always more work to be done, and users should continue asking tough questions as technology advances.

Snapchat’s transparency on how specific AI features work and impact users will be significant in the future. Responsible engineering practices and external oversight boards can help ensure the AI benefits outweigh the risks. Overall, Snapchat has the opportunity to set an example of the safe and creative integration of AI in a social platform.

FAQs 

Is Snapchat reading my private snaps and chats with AI?

Snapchat states that AI does not scan the content of private communications. Only public content like Spotlight videos may be analyzed by AI to detect safety issues.

Can I opt out of Snapchat’s AI facial recognition?

Yes, in your Snapchat settings, you can toggle off “Use Face ID Data. ” This will stop personalizing lenses based on your face, but generic lenses will still work.

Is Spotlight recommending harmful viral challenges and misinformation?

Snapchat claims dangerous challenges and misinformation are against their guidelines. But some slip through as it scales so rapidly. They are working to improve AI content moderation.

Are Snapchat employees listening to my videos and pictures?

Snapchat says no employees listen to private user content. But moderators may review reported public content that AI flags as potentially unsafe. The content is anonymous during reviews.

How does Snapchat AI impact kids’ privacy and safety?

Child development experts say parents should monitor Snapchat use and have open discussions, given challenges like addiction and privacy loss from extensive facial scanning. But overall, Snapchat is safer than less moderated platforms.