It is Not All Fun and Games: 
Breaking News Consumption on Snapchat

AbstractSnapchat is a camera and ephemeral messaging application popular among young adults. Due to its self-destructing content and playful features, Snapchat is often associated with more trivial uses. However, the platform has added functionality to support consumption of news. To understand how users perceive and interact with news content on Snapchat, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 19 users of the platform, focusing on their use of Snapchat during breaking news events, including the 2016/2017 US presidential election and inauguration. Through the lens of Network Gatekeeping, our research explains how users consume breaking news content on Snapchat. We unpack users’ ambiguous perceptions of news reliability on Snapchat, and demonstrate how this contrasts with traditional news consumption. Our research also describes how users’ mental models of how Snapchat works—specifically their theories about how the platform curates news content—shape their judgments of reliability, media bias and authenticity.

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