May 23, 2018

Cosmo After Dark: Is there really porn on Snapchat?

This week, parents in our Facebook Group “Parent Social Huddle” alerted us to Cosmo’s new Snapchat Discover channel called “Cosmo Afer Dark.” In a May 18 article, the publisher promised “an X-rated weekly edition that goes live every Friday at 6 p.m. and is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and horny.” So, yeah. Parents were freaking out. 😱😡😩

But there’s no need to (anymore) for two reasons:

  1. The channel was discontinued after one week.
  2. Brands are not allowed to show inappropriate content to social media users under the age of 18.

How social media platforms use age-gating

Publishers like Cosmo, NPR, People Magazine, National Geographic, and many others must adhere to stringent guidelines around editing and video production. Snapchat mandates that all images and headlines be appropriate for an audience as young as 13 years old. This makes sense, as users must be at least 13 to join the platform.

Snapchat Discover Tab example screen shot

However, if a user is 18 or older (which the app knows because users must input their birthday when creating accounts), they’re exposed to more explicit material. It’s called “age-gating.” If your child signed up using their real birthday and are under the age of 18, they should not have seen Cosmo After Dark.

That said, the Discover section of Snapchat has always included what we’ll call “inappropriate content.” The Snapchat Playbook in our Social Locker Room warns parents of this and includes a screenshot of a random Discover page.

The bad news

There are no parental controls in Snapchat, no filters to set, nothing. And inappropriate content, whether from publishers or from other users, is also available on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Social media monitoring tools aren’t much help either.

The good news

Younger users typically do not use Snapchat for publishers’ content in the Discover section. They use it to chat with friends💬, play with the filters😁, create their own snap stories🤳, and keep up Snapstreaks.

Plus, there are endless amounts of conversations to have with kids about what to do if they see content like Cosmo After Dark on Snapchat, other platforms, video games, movies, etc. Check out the advice below taken from our Huddle, “Navigating Inappropriate Content on YouTube,” in our Social Locker Room.

As early as possible, your child needs to know that they can come to you when (not if) they see inappropriate content, and that you won’t overreact 🙊 , be angry 😠 , or take away their device 📵 .

  • Talk to your child about how they feel and what to do about it. Give them the Do’s.
  • While you’re at it, consider also talking about the dangers of sexting and storing images on their phone.
  • Keep your cool 😎 in the moment. Don’t overreact. Rather than yelling or immediately shutting the laptop lid or taking away the phone, take a deep breath.
  • Consider talking to your spouse, partner, or friend, and then find a calm moment to huddle with your child.
  • If possible, proactively huddle with your child about explicit content before they come across it by accident, are shown it by someone else, or 🔍 search for it on their own. Watching one of their favorite Netflix programs with them (like Season 1 or 2 of “13 Reasons Why“) may be a perfect way — for both of you — to naturally start and continue an honest dialogue about difficult topics.