Social media companies must take step back from complexity


By Saketh Vasamsetti, Columnist

Ever since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has been at the top of the social media industry and without a doubt is one of the most influential apps currently used.

However, the company finds itself at a standstill for the first time after a brand new interface update. The app is known for its division between personal interactions, marketing and public interactions with Snapchat stories split into three separate pages. Following the update, the new Snapchat interface combines the personal interactions with the public stories.

The update was instantly met with backlash as users took other social media platforms by storm to post their disapproval of the new update.

A fake direct message conversation between a person and the official Snapchat account was posted on Twitter, detailing the company responding to potentially reverting the update in exchange for 50,000 retweets.

Although the request was fake, the picture of the conversation received a staggering 1.3 million retweets.

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Obviously people are upset with the new update, and they are for good reason. It’s always been difficult for social media platforms to find a perfect balance between simplicity and social interaction.

As an active social media user myself, it is safe to say most users prefer apps that provide an efficient and straightforward concept while still gaining the full experience of being active online.

Snapchat experimented with a more complex layout and was rightfully met with distaste. It seems that as technology progresses, so does the urge for change from the perspective of a tech company. Remaining stagnant won’t be beneficial and change must come eventually.

Opico, a newly developed social media app, aims to provide users a simplistic environment while retaining a mindset of being “social first.”

The app was developed by students here at the University and is a new way of discovering and rating points of interests. Users can simply post emoji reactions after visiting various points of interest.

The five-character emoji limit paired with the hundreds of emojis to choose from offers people a chance to truly be creative in an atmosphere where most social media posts seem to follow a wash, rinse and repeat pattern.

Sujay Khandekar, master’s student in Engineering and one of the leads on the project, explained the vision behind the intriguing idea.

“The emoji-based reactions are easier to write and more fun to craft than text-based reviews on Yelp. We hope that the fresh take on recommendations (and warnings) encourage people to share opinions on their social media,” he said.

Khandekar and nine other students are working on Opico, hoping to push their idea to new heights.

A lot of the times, people go through experiences that are difficult to put into words (especially when presented with a challenge of only using 350 characters). We’ve heard “a picture is worth a thousand words” more than a thousand times, and emojis are becoming a new form of communication, with each one standing for an entire range of emotions.

As consumers expect more from tech companies, there will surely be times of great backlash and times of great praise.

At the end of the day, when using social media apps, the level of interconnectivity we can achieve is the more important aspect.

Making the process of exploring and connecting with the experiences of other people from across the world easier should always be an end goal.

Apps like Opico may seem like a slimmed down version of other social media giants, but are a much-needed step forward into the future.

Saketh is a sophomore in LAS.

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