How Does Snapchat Determine Your Best Friends?
Social media apps like Snapchat are built around a “friend” model. Friends in an app, much like friends in the real world, are the people with whom we interact the most and share the closest relationships. As anyone who experienced middle school or junior high can attest, the number and quality of friends that one possesses can become very important in assessing a person’s social standing.
It should come as no surprise that, just as in middle school, some people obsess over who’s displayed as their best friends in Snapchat. Snap Inc. keeps many of their algorithms a secret, but we’ve done the work in deciphering how Snapchat orders your best friends, how to get someone into your best friend list, and Snapchat’s reasoning for the way their algorithm works.
How are Snapchat’s Best Friends Ordered?
Prior to 2018, the algorithm for deciding whether a friend was a best friend was pretty straightforward, even if the exact details remained shrouded by Snapchat’s secrecy concerning the underlying rules of the app. Basically, Snapchat would look at your interactions with other users over the last seven days, and internally create an ordered list based on the number of times you sent people snaps, and the number of times that person sent snaps to you. Then the friends at the top of that ranking (usually from three to seven people) would be declared your best friends.
However, Snapchat modified their way of sorting your friends in early 2018. Their revised algorithm is more complicated, taking things like your group chat participation into account. The app also added a hierarchy of emojis that are assigned to various types of best friend. You can have a regular best friend, a best friend who has had that status for two weeks, a best friend for two months, an almost-best-friend, and more.
You can also have as many as eight best friends, making it hard to know who’s truly at the top spot. Finding out who is on your best friends list is easy: just tap the New Chat icon in the top right of the Snapchat home screen, and your best friends have their own section at the top of the friends list which will then appear.
Can You Edit Your Best Friends List?
Although you might snap with her every day, Snapchat understands that your Aunt Janet isn’t really your best friend. However, Snapchat doesn’t care about our opinions of who our friends ought to be; they care only about the outcome from their algorithm. So unlike the days of MySpace, there are no direct tools for modifying your friends list.
However, using the algorithm—even if you don’t know the exact parameters used—makes it easy to shape your friends list in Snapchat. Let’s take a look at how to accomplish that.
You have two ways of getting someone off your best friends list and both are relatively simple. The first way, aka “The Nuclear Option” is to unfriend or even to block the person. Bam, they are off your friends list and off your best friends list as well. However, this could lead to ill feelings if the person is actually an important part of your life, and few of us would accept “I didn’t want you on my best friends list anymore” as a good reason to block or drop someone.
The second way is significantly more subtle: just stop interacting with them. You can’t control how many snaps they send you (which is still part of the algorithm) but you can refrain from responding. Usually a complete cutoff of communication will result in someone dropping off the best friends list within 24 hours. If your friends list isn’t very short, then a new best friend should replace them.
How to Make Someone Your Bestie
It takes a bit more work to proactively move someone onto your best friends list. Because the algorithm is looking at engagement over time, you can’t just volley a hundred messages with a friend in an hour and expect to appear on one another’s lists. It will take time and perseverance.
If you constantly engage with that person by sending them snaps and encouraging them to reply and engage back with you, then after a few days the algorithm should be able to recognize that there has been a fundamental change in the status of your relationship, and reward you with that prized emoticon in your friends list.
Who Can See Your Snapchat Best Friends?
Although you used to be able to view your friends’ Best Friends lists, Snapchat made this information private two years ago following the February 2018 update. It’s a bit of a bummer, but unfortunately, you can’t view this information anymore.
The Last Snap
I think it’s actually a mistake to try to game the Snapchat system to make sure that the “right people” are on your best friends list. If you let the algorithm work and just snap back and forth with the people you actually want to talk to, you’ll quickly find out who your real best friends are on the app.
Your Snapchat best friends do not have to be a mirror of your IRL best friends; in fact, that would be kind of pointless, because the whole idea of an app like Snapchat is to let you meet and hangout with people who aren’t readily available to you in the real world. Still, it’s easy to push specific friends into your bubble by snapping them again and again, and soon enough, you’ll have exactly who you want sitting in your list.