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Snapchat cracks down on fake news and clickbait

As it marches toward an expected spring IPO, the social network is trying to distinguish itself as a go-to place for news.

Snapchat updated its editorial guidelines.
Screenshot by Richard Nieva/CNET

Snapchat is growing up as a place for news.

Snap, the parent company for the popular social network, said Monday it updated its guidelines for publishers, cracking down on images that are misleading or have no editorial value.

Snapchat also laid out its policy for dealing with material that violates its guidelines, stressing that it will allow inappropriate material if it is newsworthy.

The service will also allow publishers to decide on gating off content they deem inappropriate for people under 18.

The changes are for Snapchat's Discover feature, where users can find content from media partners like Sports Illustrated or CNN. (CNET is not a Discover partner.)

"We take the responsibility of being a source of news, entertainment and information for our community of more than 150 million daily active Snapchatters very seriously," a Snap spokesperson said in a statement.

The update comes as Snapchat prepares for an expected initial public offering in the spring. The social network has been taking steps to make the service more usable to the masses. Once dismissed as a sexting app, it's becoming one of tech's emerging power players.

For example, earlier this month, Snapchat launched a search bar, aiming to make it easier for confused users to navigate the app. And last week, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton stepped down from his role there to become Snap's full-time board chairman.

The question of what social networks allow on their services has been a hot-button topic since the US election, after Facebook faced criticism for allowing misinformation to proliferate on its site.

Facebook has also grappled with questions of censorship. In September, the social network removed a post that included the iconic Vietnam photo "Napalm Girl," which features a naked child -- a clear violation of the social network's community standards. But Facebook restored the post after a public backlash, and said it never should have taken it down in the first place.

As for cracking down on clickbait, Snapchat isn't the only one trying to discourage it. Earlier this year, Facebook tweaked its algorithms to weed out headlines that are misleading.

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