July 30, 2019 / 5:44 PM / 2 months ago

Oh Snap: U.S. senator proposes bill to ban Snapchat 'Snapstreaks'

The Snapchat app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill introduced by a U.S. senator on Tuesday aims to curb overuse of social media by banning Snapchat’s Snapstreak feature, which encourages users to send photos on the app at least once every 24 hours.

The provision to ban the streak feature on Snap Inc’s (SNAP.N) photo-sharing platform, Snapchat, is part of Senator Josh Hawley’s “Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act” to ban “addictive and deceptive techniques” by social media companies, the Missouri Republican said in a statement.

The Snapstreak feature displays the number of days a Snapchat user has continuously sent photos to another user. If a streak goes unattended for 24 hours, it disappears from the user’s app. Some users are so dedicated to their streaks that Snapchat has a form on its website for inquiries to recover lost streaks that may have disappeared erroneously.

Snap did not respond to a request for comment.

Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, a trade group whose members include Snap, said companies like Snap are invested in promoting “healthy online experiences” and that policy proposals “must be evidence-based.”

Critics of the feature say it pushes users, often teenagers, to become addicted to the app.

Snapchat was among the “most detrimental” social media networks to young people’s mental health in a 2017 study by the London-based Royal Society for Public Health.

The bill would also ban infinite scroll and autoplay features, which provide users with an endless supply of content. Social media platforms would have to include “natural stopping points,” Hawley said.

Snapchat’s number of daily active users rose to 203 million in the second quarter from 190 million from the prior quarter, Snap said last week. Snap shares fell 3.2% to close at $16.93 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis

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