Snapchat CEO sits in dark room and explains his app to parents around the world

Is Evan Spiegel OK? Hours after posting a fuzzy 240p video on YouTube explaining what his Snapchat service is all about, the CEO went and deleted all of his posts on his Twitter account. The somewhat bizarre video, shot in a dimly lit room with a bunch of flowers and several other props, is essentially a four-minute lecture where Spiegel, who launched the app in 2011, explains to the uninitiated how Snapchat came about and how it works.

The talk appears to be aimed at parents confused by why their kids are taking “a zillion pictures a day – pictures of things that they [themselves] would never take pictures of.”

While taking photos used to be about capturing important moments, Spiegel explains, today’s young people use pictures “for talking.”   Using barely legible text and diagrams scrawled in a ring-bound sketchbook, the creator of the ephemeral messaging app goes on to talk about how social media has evolved over the years and how that’s affected notions of identity.

“When social media started, it was based on the desktop computer, and it was about accumulation,” Spiegel says, explaining that the proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones has changed everything and empowered the idea of instant expression, “which is really showing someone where you are, and how you’re feeling in the moment.”

The 25-year-old CEO continues, “Instant expression says my identity is who I am right now – it’s the result of everything I’ve ever done, but I’m not the accumulation of all of that stuff….this brings us to Snapchat.” These comments, it seems, tie in with Spiegel’s decision today to delete all his Twitter posts – it’s so darn yesterday with all that accumulation, you see.

Snapchat basics

Reaching out to confused mothers and fathers everywhere, Spiegel then goes on to outline the basics of the cross-platform app. He explains about the software’s three screens – Snap, the camera element of the app; Chat, which shows the people with whom you’re having conversations; and Stories, which keeps all of your snaps together from the last 24 hours.

Stories, Spiegel says, is what really sets Snapchat apart from other social media apps. Why? Because it shows content in chronological order, rather than in reverse order, so you can watch a particular event unfold in a way that makes more sense to the viewer.

Summing it all up in one sentence, he says Snapchat is “all about taking pictures and expressing yourself in the moment.”

Questions answered?

Clearly explained, albeit in near darkness, the super-low-budget production may help to answer a few questions for head-scratching folk who’ve thus far failed to understand the attraction of the Snapchat app. It may even have thousands of excited parents signing up to the service eager to begin expressing themselves in the moment, a development that would surely have their children closing down their own accounts with equal enthusiasm.

It’s not clear why Spiegel opted to shoot the sequence with a budget equal to the price of a Starbucks coffee (no, wait, it looks like it cost way less than that), but perhaps rather than creating the kind of ultra-slick HD production we’ve come to expect from tech companies big and small, he simply wanted to make something more intimate and personal – rather like the app he created.

Mobile

You forgot all about these 6 phones of 2018. Prepare to forget them again

The best phones of the year are memorable, exciting, and ones we all want to buy. But what about the others? We're not talking about bad phones, we're talking about forgettable phones -- ones that aren't even bad enough to be remembered.
Mobile

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Gaming

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.
Social Media

GIF almost anywhere with Giphy’s new keyboard and sticker maker

We all love GIFs, but not every app supports them. Fortunately, the new Giphy' keyboard brings GIFs to any iOS app that supports multimedia. The update also comes with a new tool for creating animated stickers.