Snap doubles down on creators, opening ad-revenue sharing and launching public stories to users over 18

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Snap is rolling out new features that encourage adult users to share photos and videos beyond their immediate circle of friends as well as making it easier for users with large followings to earn money from their posts on Snapchat. These changes are a major part of the social media company’s push to position itself as the platform of choice for creators. 

The features, which Snap announced at its Partner Summit conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, could open up an important new source of growth for the company but are also likely to raise privacy concerns.

“We’re obsessed with listening to creators and building new creative tools based on their feedback,” Brooke Berry, Snap’s head of talent development, said in a keynote address at the Summit announcing the creator-focused initiatives. “We’re committed to supporting our community of aspiring and emerging creators as they turn content creation into a career, and we are continuing to reward creators.”

Starting Wednesday, Snapchat users over 18 years of age will be automatically prompted to share their Stories to the broader public. If the user opts for public consumption, their Story will be discoverable by location or interests for 24 hours before disappearing—though users will now have the option of saving public stories to their profiles, making the content viewable  indefinitely.

Previously, Snapchat users’ Stories were limited to their individually accepted friends, unless the user changed their privacy settings. By allowing any adult Snap user to make public Snap Stories, the company is going head-to-head with Instagram, where users have been able to share public Stories—video, photo and text content that disappears after 24 hours—since 2016. 

The move could allow more Snapchat users to go viral, potentially forging a new class of creators on the platform. Snap, which has 750 million monthly users, faces stiff competition from the likes of Meta-owned Instagram, Alphabet’s YouTube, and TikTok. 

Snapchat users may be motivated to open their stories for public consumption by the possibility of earning advertising revenue. As Fortune has previously reported, Snapchat’s invitation-only revenue-sharing program has delivered big payouts to some participating creators, with some making upwards of $30,000 in 72 hours on their stories. These high payouts have motivated top creators—like Charli D’Amelio, Hannah Stocking, and David Dobrik—to invest in making Snapchat Stories. 

On Wednesday, Snap said the revenue-share program will be open to anyone who meets certain criteria: people with 50,000-plus followers, 25 million monthly Snapchat views who post upwards of 10 stories per month. While it’s still a high bar, the new threshold is likely to make Snapchat more attractive to creators.

“We invented stories,” Jim Shepherd, Snap’s global head of creator partnerships, tells Fortune. “We know this is a really competitive space, but the Stories revenue-share program is a real differentiator for us…we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to start your creator journey on Snapchat.”

With these changes may come safety and privacy concerns, especially as the company says that 90% of 13-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are Snapchat users, many of whom lie about their age. Posting public stories opens the door for strangers to connect via direct message on Snapchat, a situation that could lead to problematic online relationships, harassment, and even sextortion. Asked how Snap will verify that users are over 18, a spokesperson told Fortune that users must input their age when they create an account, and that minors (anyone under 18) are not able to change the age on their account.

At the Summit the company also announced pushes into artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and local communities.

It’s certainly an interesting time for Snap to make a play to both increase and monetize creators as TikTok faces an uncertain future in the U.S. and Meta has ceased creator payments on Reels. Montana’s state legislature recently passed a bill banning TikTok in the state, though Governor Greg Gianforte has not indicated whether he will sign it. And the Biden administration has threatened a nationwide ban (though this may not be legally or technically possible). Meta, which paid creators relatively unpredictable sums on Reels content, suddenly halted these payments last month, shocking creators who had come to expect income from the platform. The potential TikTok ban and diminished Meta payments create voids, which Snap is, of course, ready to fill.  

“What we would like to start to see is more true homegrown stars,” says Shepherd. “We really have a hands-on approach to nurturing talent and helping them succeed, especially in the Stories revenue-share program.”

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