Mecca

Al Jazeera English is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The app, most popular with teens, featured a Muslim holiday as one of its Live stories.

Snapchat is a fast growing mobile application that lets its users communicate and share images, videos, including text and drawings for free. It became very popular especially among the youth because of its unique features. The “self-destruct” feature lets senders or sharers of the images, texts, and videos choose how long these shared contents will last in the recipients’ mobile phone before they are automatically erased.

Such feature eventually gave the opportunity for many users to use the app and to share almost any type of content without censorship. Thus, it became a haven for negative things like personal humiliation, discrimination, profanity, and even the so-called “sexting”.

But recently, it seemed that the famous app proved that it is also a useful and friendly tool for the religious and conservatives by sharing images and videos of the most sacred place and event for Muslims. During the last days of the Ramadan, Snapchat shared live images and videos of the events in Mecca.

On the Muslims’ holiest day, Laylat al-Qadr, Snapchat pooled images and videos from contributors who made the pilgrimage to the holy city for the Umrah, one of the oldest traditions in Islam. Snapchat made it possible for the world to witness a tradition that is typically strictly for Muslims.

Such a bold move became a trending topic even on different social media sites and the video shared by Snapchat was viewed by millions. Public reaction is very much positive especially for Muslims. Even the Saudi government, which is noted for its strict media and privacy rules, did not criticize the recent Snapchat coverage of the last ten days of Ramadan.

Its live coverage and sharing of Ramadan events is not the only time Snapchat made such a move. In the past, it also has shared other significant events like the Electric Daisy Carnival, the presidential announcements of Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and the on-going events in West Bank and the Greek financial crisis.

According to some experts, these efforts add value to its services. Aside from a mere channel of communication, Snapchat is slowly transforming into a hybrid media company. Just recently, Snapchat partnered with several online and traditional media networks to increase or widen its resources. It is also reported that the company hired former CNN correspondent Peter Hamby to enhance its live coverage capabilities.

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