Snap saw monstrous growth in the second quarter, and the reason has a lot to do with that viral gender-swapping filter

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity FairSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel.

Amid Snapchat’s uphill battle to keep users interested and attract even more to the app, the company has unexpectedly surpassed the 200 million mark for daily users.

Snap’s greater-than-expected numbers were revealed Tuesday in the company’s earnings report for the second quarter of 2019. The company added 13 million daily active users in the last three months, which is its highest growth since 2016.

The app has one key feature to thank: its popular, catfish-enabling “gender-swapping” filter.

Snapchat rolled out the filter on May 10 that, when applied, changed users’ appearances by swapping out their traditionally male or traditionally female facial features with those of the other gender. The filter was an instant hit, and many quickly posted their transformations on social media. It was particularly popular among men applying the female-appearing filter, some of whom used their altered appearances to create fake Tinder profiles and catfish other men there.

Snapchat gender filterBen Gilbert/Business InsiderAn example of Snapchat’s gender-swapping filter in action.

In the five days after Snapchat rolled out the new lens filter in May, 7 million new users across iPhone and Android devices installed the Snapchat app for the first time, according to data from Sensor Tower.

That’s a huge uptick from how many new users Snapchat usually draws in: During the same five-day time span a week before, Sensor Tower reported the app was downloaded only 3 million times, which means there was a 133% increase in the amount of new Snapchat downloads in the days after the gender-swapping filter took social media by storm.


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Snapchat has been making a big push into the creation of new filters – or “augmented reality lenses,” as Snapchat calls them. In the Tuesday earnings call, Snap Chief Financial Officer Derek Andersen credited the company’s AR lenses with an estimated 7 million to 9 million of the platform’s added 13 million daily active users.

The 13-million userbase jump is massive for a platform that has been seeing its daily user base shrink f0r months. Users dropped Snapchat en masse following a wildly unpopular redesign for iPhones and iOS devices in 2017 that put Snapchat Stories from friends and celebrities on the same page. The company continued to lose users through 2018, as more teens continued to turn to Instagram over Snapchat, as well as popular video app TikTok.

Coming into May, analysts anticipated Snapchat’s user base to shrink even further this year. But instead, Snapchat saw its global user base increase 8% since this time last year.

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