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Snapchat Debuts ‘Friend Emojis,’ Low-Light Camera Button

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Who do your friends snap the most? Snapchat’s replacement of the “Best Friends” list with “Friend Emojis,” released on Monday, gives users new clues into their friends’ social habits.

In the past, the Best Friends list revealed which usernames people snapped most often. Now, the app uses a series of emojis to categorize users’ relationships with each other as well as users’ mutual friendships. The Los Angeles, Calif.-based company announced the change in a post on the Snap Channel of Discover, its news and media feature that launched in January. The emojis aren’t necessarily intuitive labels. However, they do give users more ways to track their socializing patterns and those of their friends’.

The app used photos of Beyoncé with other celebrities to explain each emoji. A gold heart means two users both snap each other more than they snap any other person; a grimacing emoji means two users send more snaps to the same third user than they do to any other user; a sunglass-wearing emoji means two people have a best friend in common and send many snaps to this person; a smiling emoji indicates that a friend is among the people a user snaps most often; a smirking emoji means the friend sends many snaps to the user, but the user does not send many snaps to that friend; and the fire emoji means two users have been snapping each other for consecutive days.

Snapchat also added a “Needs Love” section to show which friends you haven’t been snapping as much as you did in the past. In addition, the app made an image and video brightening button in the shape of a crescent moon to improve shooting in dim lighting.

The messaging service’s latest round closed last December, when it raised $485 million, giving it a valuation of more than $10 billion. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, plans to invest $200 million in Snapchat at a valuation of $15 billion, according to reports earlier this month. Last month, Snapchat was aiming to raise about $500 million in its next roundBloomberg reported, citing people close to the matter.

For years, the app’s security and privacy policies have fallen under scrutiny. In 2013, the FTC launched an investigation challenging the service’s claim that it offered “disappearing” photos and videos. Snapchat ultimately settled with the FTC, creating a comprehensive privacy policy to protect user information.

Snapchat also announced several new security and privacy changes in a Medium article last week. The company has joined FacebookGoogle GOOGL +0.15% and Yahoo YHOO -0.11% in reporting the frequency of requests for user content and information from government agencies, is expanding its “bug bounty program” and aims to completely ban third-party apps, according to Medium.

“We actually consider it a competitive advantage that we care that much about users’ privacy and security,” Snapchat’s vice president of engineering Timothy Sehn told Medium. “We care enough to delete their data. That is something that most companies don’t do because that data is valuable.”

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