By Brooke Robinson
A premium Snapchat account isn’t something offered by the company itself, yet they have a large population among Snapchat users. “People pay me to view my Snapchats and my stories. Otherwise my account is private and no one can see,” said premium Snapchat user and UT alum Jake Larson.
There are no perfect guidelines for how a premium Snapchat works, but it is understood in the “Snap” community that most premium Snapchat users are either selling or buying content with sexual context. Whether this be nude photos, videos, or even written messages. “Not everything is like a completely nude photo but everything I do on my premium account is for a sexual reason, that’s why people pay to have me on Snapchat,” said Larson.
Without a specific feature on their app to highlight premium or paid accounts, plenty of Snapchat users still attract as many users as they see fit. The way many users do this is by advertising on separate platforms, and often using teasers as a form of click-bait. Taylor Golden, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, and a consumer of premium Snapchat content explains how her favorite paid account works; “Trisha Paytas has like millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram so she’ll post semi-risque photos on her Instagram, or talk about her premium Snapchat account in her YouTube videos which gets people interested,” said Golden.
Golden also included how Trisha Paytas uses an ‘exclusivity’ tactic which lures people in by thinking they may not be chosen no matter how much money they offer. “It really raises the stakes, she’s a genius for that,” said Golden. “I’m sure she makes a lot more money that way, too.”
What attracts users to these paid accounts is a combination of cultural standards, cultural norms, age demographic, and a shift in dating experiences for younger generations. However, some argue that Premium Snapchats aren’t any different than how users have consumed and expressed sexuality in the past.
“My experience with sexuality and openness on the internet is honestly no different than people twenty and thirty years ago,” said premium Snapchat user Garisson Ledger. “We’re just a little louder about it now…In the past, people would go buy magazines or VHS tapes, they’d subscribe to an additional fifty dollars in cable packages to watch Hugh Heffner live his life. This is pretty much exactly the same thing.”
Of course not everyone endorses this content, and not every app allows it either. Advertising for your premium Snapchat account on social medias such as Instagram and YouTube may get you flagged, and even possibly blocked from posting. Instagram in specific works very hard, just as its parent company Facebook does, to remove any content deemed ‘inappropriate’ including nudity or overtly sexual context.
Included in Instagram’s guidelines is a clear statement: “Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms, alcohol, and tobacco products between private individuals, and buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if legal in your region) are also not allowed.” Snapchat has set itself apart in this area, and for this reason, online users looking for sexual content prefer paid Snapchats.
It is speculated that Snapchat was originally created for sexual content, as the photos and videos themselves disappear after an allotted time. For many years of the app’s first developments, these photos and videos could never be seen again or saved. In more recent versions of the app, a user can choose if their viewers may replay or save their content. This entire concept has set Snapchat apart and kept its particularly sexual undertones alive.
“Some people say Snapchat is dying out, but it’s really just switching demographics now because I see way more people coming on specifically for sexual content now than before,” said Larson. “They don’t go to other apps for this, they just use what they’re already comfortable with.”
As culture shifts, so do the means in which media is consumed, sexual media included. As some have argued, the sexual context of media is no different than past consumers and creators, rather simply consumed differently. What sets Premium Snapchats apart is the app’s allowance of how much sexual content is allowed versus other apps or outlets on the internet. What interests consumers in paying for sexual content varies from person to person and seems to be their own reasons.
“I just think it’s consumed more publicly now, and people are more comfortable sharing their consumption with the world because we share so much of the rest of our lives online already,” said Ledger. “This idea of artificial intelligence and technology being everything all the time really plays into the authenticity of paying someone to send you sexual content.”
For some, this concept is still outlandish and seems like a distant thought. For others, this concept is a reality.
Brooke Robinson can be reached at Brooke.firstname.lastname@example.org