Snapchat fact-checks all political ads, CEO Evan Spiegel said this week, the latest tech company aiming to address the spread of misinformation and differentiate itself from other social media platforms.
“What we try to do is create a place for political ads on our platform, especially because we reach so many young people and first-time voters we want them to be able to engage with the political conversation, but we don’t allow things like misinformation to appear in that advertising,” Spiegel said in a CNBC interview Monday, adding that all political advertising is subject to review.
The extent of Snap’s fact-checking process is not clear. The company notes in political ad policy posted on its website that they “reserve the right to require substantiation of an advertiser’s factual claims.”
“We subject all advertising to review, including political advertising,” Spiegel said in the interview, stressing the company’s intention of keeping young people politically engaged while cutting off misleading advertising.
Tech giants diverge in their attitude towards censoring political ads and preventing fake news and images. While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and TikTok’s VP Blake Chandlee have banned political ads on their platforms, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the decision not to fact-check political ads, taking the stance that consumers should decide for themselves.
Facebook’s Instagram has launched an initiative targeting image-based misinformation. Google, the parent company of YouTube, hasn’t made its position clear.
Snap’s ad revenue is far smaller than that of Facebook. Still, analysts applauded how the social media company has been bringing on new advertisers and media partners and gaining trust of a younger audience segment that has been turning away from other platforms.
Established social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are losing young teens to Snapchat and TikTok, according to a Morning Consult survey. More than two thirds of teens aged 13-to-16 say they use Snapchat, compared to only about 40% using Facebook or Twitter. Overall, Snapchat outperforms Facebook and Twitter among Gen Z but lags among millennials.
“There’s a real change in terms of the globalization” of Snapchat, Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield told CNBC. The company is “bringing on content and advertisers that didn’t exist.”
- Greenfield thinks Snap benefits from partnering with TikTok, a Chinese social media video app. “I had asked Evan in the last conference call ‘is TikTok a friend or foe’, and he said absolutely they’re a friend,” said Greenfield, stressing the fact that Snapchat is now displaying TikTok’s contents on its platform. “You wouldn’t allow that if it was a foe.”
- While admitting Snap is still at the growth stage, Greenfield was also confident about the company’s financial future. “This is still an early-stage company. You are seeing the move towards ebitda break even, they should get to that during this calendar quarter, you are going to see this company get to free cashable profitability next year.”
- Snap registered $1.2 billion revenue in the nine months of 2019, a 46% year over year increase, according to its latest quarterly report. At the same time, Facebook reported $17 billion advertising revenue, a 28% year over year increase.