Last week, Snapchat introduced a new channel in its "Discover" section called, "Cosmo After Dark." And simply put, it is pornographic.
This is highly concerning, not least because huge numbers of teens use Snapchat to communicate with their friends. According to Cosmopolitan magazine, the new channel "is an X-rated weekly edition that goes live every Friday at 6 p.m. and is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and h*rny."
The worst part? There's no option — for parents or anyone else — to switch it off.
In a post published by watchdog and educational organization Protect Young Eyes, Chris McKenna explains why the new feature is of such a concern.
"Cosmo After Dark seems to include a new, more pornographic level of sexualized content, even by Snapchat's standards," McKenna writes. "It's for this reason that Protect Young Eyes is so concerned. Snapchat seems desperate. As a publicly traded company, making money is important. In the bloody waters of social media competition, it's a feeding frenzy, and there are signs that Snapchat might not survive. Therefore, everything seems ok. They won't say no to anyone."
McKenna further explained how he had spoken to some 240 eighth grade middle school students and was shocked to find that 80 percent of them were active on Snapchat. Now, they have unlimited access to a pornographic offshoot of their favorite social media app. And anyone can subscribe — the age requirement is easy to manipulate.
Because of this threat Protect Young Eyes is taking action — calling on parents to act, and fast.
"Maybe you're a parent who thinks their kid will suffer socially if he or she doesn't have social media," McKenna continues. "Hey, there's no real gentle way to say this, but that position usually says more about the parent than it does about the kid. That perspective is often (not always, but often) code for, 'I don't like fighting this anymore. It's just easier to say yes.'"
"Our stance isn't popular but, we stand by it," he concludes.
PYE has recommended that parents download "Bark," an award-winning service that "proactively monitors text messages, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind."
Bark works on a three-fold accountability system: "Monitor, Detect, Alert." According to its website, the app sends "automatic alerts via email and text when Bark's algorithms detect potential risks," meaning that "you don't have to comb through every post and text."
Check out the video below for some more information on how the system works:
"Keep up the good work! Porn hijacks brains. Porn requires that you feed it and it never gets full," one person commented on McKenna's post highlighting this new development from Snapchat.
"I appreciate you sharing this information. Hard to keep up with all that is coming at our kids and families," another commenter added. "I personally think we absolutely need to be guarding these things from our children!"
Read more about Snapchat's risky new developments here.