“Game of social network giants” to battle over youngsters

July 10, 2016 - 09:00

In an era when virtual space takes the throne, everyone’s activities can become public common property. As youngsters today find that Facebook is no longer a safe sanctuary for their privacy, the need to seek out other applications such as Snapchat is at full throttle.

Viet Nam News

by An Vũ

In an era when virtual space takes the throne, everyone’s activities can become public common property. As youngsters today find that Facebook is no longer a safe sanctuary for their privacy, the need to seek out other applications such as Snapchat is at full throttle.

Up to now, Facebook has been the baron who ruled over the cyber space world. Its power overshadowed other social networks like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Yet, since Snapchat started raids into this world, users have been drawn towards the multi-purpose application.

Snapchat is a funny image messaging and multimedia mobile application initially released in September 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown. It is used to share photos, short videos, texts and drawings.

The app is free to download and it is free to send messages and videos, both of which will "self destruct" a few seconds after the person you sent them to has viewed them.

The official statistics from Snapchat itself say the app has over 100 million active users all over the globe. Most of them are youngsters; and about 30 per cent of them have “moved in” from Facebook to avoid their parents’ monitoring activities.

The reason for that is simple. Previously, the number of parents using Facebook was reported as extremely low. Now, 75 per cent of parents are able to use the social network. With only a few simple clicks, they can see what their children are doing, where they are, who they are hanging out with, and much more.

The more open the social network becomes, the more features it is likely to offer various types of users. Facebook’s interface is getting more friendly after years of development, making it easy for parents to access.

However, for new territory like Snapchat, the learning curve is at a completely different level.

Even young people find it hard to use the Snapchat app the very first time. A 19-year-old reader of Zing News, Trần Ngọc Khánh, said its function keys and how to manipulate it were quite complicated for beginners.

“Sooner or later, this app will be popular in Việt Nam. There is an undeniable truth that Snapchat might be harder to use than Facebook, but once you get used to it, you can not imagine how useful it is.”

Khánh has accounts on both Facebook and Snapchat, and her mum Vũ Thị Sương said Snapchat was like a maths exam for her to handle.

“One fine morning I accidentally grabbed my daughter’s phone when she was away and saw a message for her on this weird app called Snapchat, quickchat or something. A few minutes later, as I looked for it again to question her, the message had totally disappeared,” she complained to me.

I may take Khánh’s side entirely, as a recent online survey showed the number of people using Snapchat video globally has picked up 2 billion more views than for videos on Facebook, with 9,000 shares on Snapchat in comparison with 2,200 shares on Facebook. In the category of young users, Snapchat also beats its blue rival with 85 per cent of its users being under 35 compared to Facebook’s 65 per cent.

That seems correct to my cousin Đào Minh Phượng’s mother. From a zero to a hero of the technology kingdom, she gave me a more logical reason why parents found Snapchat a mission impossible.

“Maybe adults quitting Facebook and turning to Snapchat is just a dream, and these naughty kids will always know it best. While on Facebook and Twitter, we can follow the news and even do shopping online as much as we like. What can we do with Snapchat? Send a selfie to our friends or the kids with a cute emoticon? Or have a confidential chat with our soul mates? This is definitely not what we will do at our age,” she cried.

And so, my little friends can now be at ease making a fuss in their own territories. They no longer have to fear their parents sneaking a look at their messages when they’ve been given bad grades or are sharing girlfriend, boyfriend things.

Some teenagers may not get too excited with this young app. A high school student remarked, “Snapchat cannot save anything in its memory. For a person who cannot remember anything like me, this one is like instant noodles. Besides, I am too slow to perceive any information like images, messages, or videos, while many of my friends edit their selfies so fast I cannot even see a thing.”

In the case of my younger brother, an Internet bookworm, whether Snapchat can overthrow Facebook or not is an unpredictable matter for the future.

“We cannot be certain of anything. I have it installed on my phone, but no more. This app is even harder to use than Instagram, not to mention Facebook. Until Snapchat can reach down to the common level like its preceding brothers I don’t think it will be very popular in Việt Nam. Most of my friends even prefer Instagram more, due to its diversified store and friendly interface.”

While this particular social network battle is still burning here, I recommend you have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever apps you like on your phone, as long as they bring you a little fun, even just for a few minutes. Who knows if the next app will sweep you off your seat soon and make you forget all of the above! — VNS