Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app mainly designed for friends and family to connect with each other. Recently, however, Snapchat added a Discover page that features content drawn up from the vast abyss that is the internet. Users can explore content like celebrity gossip, news, advertisements, and more. The latest addition to the Discover page has been upsetting a lot of people.

It was so upsetting, in fact, that it was cancelled after one week.

Cosmo After Dark was a Snapchat “channel” designed by Cosmopolitan where users could watch live content every Friday at 6PM. The content, while not actually explicitly pornographic, was focused only on X-rated topics. Articles ranged from “12 Songs You Should Have Sex to Right Now” to “The 19 Best Born Sites to Binge-Watch On”. The topics and images, while technically censored, were not necessarily appropriate for every Snapchat user.

And that is the problem.

Many parents protested immediately when they found out about Cosmo After Dark. A large uproar rose from the internet, from blogs to Tweets to shared Facebook posts.

And these people have reason to be concerned. Snapchat recognized the inappropriate nature of the content and announced that they would use age gating to make Cosmo After Dark only available to users over the age of 18. The problem is, Snapchat has no way to truly verify a user’s age – you have to trust that a user is as old as they say they are. Snapchat could only cross their fingers and hope that minors registered their accounts with their actual birthday. Otherwise, the content was freely accessible.

That Snapchat made this decision to run Cosmo After Dark in the first place is baffling, especially when we consider just how many of their users are underage. In the past few years, Snapchat has quickly risen to become the most popular social network for teenagers in the US. What’s more, 23% of Snapchat’s users are between the ages of 13 and 17. There is no data available for users aged 12 or younger because you must be 13 to use the app, but of course there are children who disregard this rule and use a fake birthday to sign up and snap their friends.

It is very concerning that Snapchat, with its huge audience of underage children, would decide to place X-rated material in the hands of minors with no parental controls. Can we really say that they have their users’ best interests at heart?

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