Snapchat changes its policy to allow hyperlinks in posts

Snapchat users can now include hyperlinks to external websites in their messages, reversing a longstanding strategy that has helped keep eyeballs from leaving the messaging and entertainment app.

The update, which rolled out on Wednesday, allows users to adorn their photo and video snaps with clickable links. While the app already allowed users to exchange web links in its messaging feature, this change marks a significant shift in how Snapchat regulates its tightly controlled platform.

This could lead users to share news and videos, which could change the mix of content seen in the app. Users could start adding links to e-commerce sites on snaps promoting specific products featured in their posts.

“It takes [Snapchat] on the road to direct marketing,” said Victor Anthony, managing partner at Aegis Capital, referring to an advertising strategy in which brands communicate directly with consumers through specific calls to action.

Venice-based Snap Inc., the maker of Snapchat, currently prohibits commercial use of the app in its terms of service. But the change effectively opens the door to sales of products discovered on Snapchat but purchased elsewhere.

Snapchat’s main rival, Facebook-owned Instagram, allows users and brands to add links to their profiles, but not to individual posts. However, verified accounts, including celebrities, posts, and brands, are allowed to add links to their stories — slideshow-style posts only visible for one day. Instagram and Facebook have a habit of duplicating Snapchat’s defining features.

To access the new tool, called Paperclip, users click on a paper clip icon and paste a link before sending a Snap or adding a post to their public Story. Viewers can then swipe up to view the external web page.

The new update also includes a new voice filter, which allows users to change the sound in their Snaps, and a cropping feature which allows users to create custom backgrounds.

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