As the company dropped a major redesign of its core Snapchat app on Wednesday, Spiegel penned an op-ed in Axios describing the dangers of relying on algorithms and how social media has played a role in disseminating fake news and eroding free expression between friends, while hurting media companies in the process.
Spiegel avoided calling out Facebook by name, but he was clearly referencing how Facebook has generated massive profits off of algorithmic news feeds -- a feature that has come at a "huge cost to facts, our minds and the entire media industry."
"Social media fueled fake news because content designed to be shared by friends is not necessarily content designed to deliver accurate information," Spiegel wrote. "After all, how many times have you shared something you never bothered to read?"
The comments came as Snap announced a complete redesign to the Snapchat app, including the introduction of an algorithmic Discover feed.
Spiegel argued that Snapchat's algorithms are different from Facebook's, however, in that they prioritize content based on a user's interests, rather than their friends' interests. In doing so, Spiegel is hoping that it will prevent the spread of fake news on the platform and safeguard against "mindless scrambles for friends or unworthy distractions."
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Perhaps the biggest change is that Snapchat will now keep personal content separate from professional content -- a feature that Spiegel describes as "separating social from media." Traditional platforms like Facebook's news feed intersperse content from publishers with content from friends. That feature has "yielded incredible business results," Spiegel said, but has ultimately undermined relationships with friends and the media.
Spiegel said that Snapchat's algorithms could resemble those used by Netflix Inc. (NFLX) - Get Report , which rely on machine learning to recommend content based on what users have watched in the past. "This form of machine learning personalization gives you a set of choices that does not rely on free media or friend's recommendations and is less susceptible to outside manipulation," Spiegel explained.
To be sure, Snapchat has been able to avoid the spread of fake news on its platform, unlike rivals like Facebook, Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) - Get Report and Twitter Inc. (TWTR) - Get Report . Additionally, Snapchat has become a growing destination for fresh, first-person content during major news events, such as natural disasters.
Additionally, Spiegel has a good reason to go after Facebook in this way. Snapchat's fierce competition with Facebook has been a major catalyst behind the company's sinking stock price since the IPO in March. Facebook has brazenly ripped off many key features from Snapchat, including Stories, geofilters and augmented reality face filters. Snap, meanwhile, has struggled to add new users, keep its ad business alive and prove to Wall Street that it can succeed.
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