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Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local
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Feb. 12, 2018, 11:31 a.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: www.thedailybeast.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   February 12, 2018

Snap — née Snapchat — first rolled out its heat map feature last June. The map algorithmically surfaced Snap stories around events like sports and concerts; Snap editorial staff also curated stories around other events, from New York Fashion Week to real-time coverage of unfolding tragedies like last fall’s Las Vegas mass shooting and the Manhattan terrorist attack.

Now the map is available to anyone on the wider web. Publishers can embed the Snap stories into articles, as they might a tweet or Facebook post.

Here’s a curated collection around Sunday’s explosion and fire at an electric station, and subsequent blackouts, in Puerto Rico:

Embedders beware: The snaps you’re embedding will disappear after 30 days (other Snap stories in the app are generally are available for only 24 hours).

Last month, Snap gave users the option to share Snapchat Stories outside the app, in an attempt to peel open the app a bit to non-Snapchat users. Snap has also been scrambling to improve its Discover section — where many news publishers have launched, and continue to launch, dedicated channels — and its Map feature. Snap touted the map as an eyes-on-the-ground tool for journalists to find newsworthy incidents that might be bubbling up, and has been proudly fake news–free thanks to its closely curated videos and a tightly controlled advertising environment.

But according to internal data obtained by Taylor Lorenz of the Daily Beast last month, the Snap Map hadn’t been catching on with users:

Snap says its map feature has 100 million active users. It’s hard to chart growth here, since the company hasn’t publicly released a daily active user number and the data the Daily Beast obtained in the fall showed that in September, for instance, just over 10 percent of its daily active user base was checking in on the Map feature.

The company recently updated its app to clearly delineate stories from friends on one side, and Discover content from publishers on the other. The changes were so hated that a false tweet claiming Snap would reconsider the redesign if the tweet got more than 50,000 RTs has gotten 1.3 million RTs and counting. (I, like the teens, don’t love the redesign. But I’m also a much more loyal user of Instagram Stories, ripped off directly from Snapchat.) The redesign does improve the Snap Map’s discoverability — it’s right there if you pull down on the main camera screen or tap into the Discover section search bar.

The company had good last quarter of 2017, announcing 187 million daily active users (up 18 percent from a year ago). We’ll see whether its attempts to offer Snap content outside the app, plus a teen-unapproved redesign, erase any of these gains.

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