On Sunday, Malissa Richardson, who was crowned Miss Provo in 2014, posted on Facebook asking her social media network’s opinion on Snapchat’s featured stories from media outlets like Cosmopolitan that contain sexually explicit content.
“I would consider many of them to be pornographic and I hate to think that my friends, siblings and other young people are being exposed to the same gross material multiple times a day,” Richardson wrote after posing her question. “I would hope that we have a right to opt out of being exposed to such sexually graphic headlines and pictures.”
Many of Richardson’s friends commented, expressing their concern about the same issue, some of whom said they deleted the app because of the content found in its featured stories. Well-known YouTuber Stuart Edge even commented, saying that despite the fact that his snaps get 50,000 views, he is “done with the app because of the content on it.”
Richardson immediately took action by creating an online petition that has collected over 4,500 signatures in less than 10 hours.
“I am thrilled that the petition has been received so well by the broader community outside my own social circles,” Richardson told the Deseret News. “Someone signs every 10 seconds and every share on social media generates 10 more signatures. This is what I was hoping for and I’m so grateful people are catching on and pushing it forward.”
In petitioning for the cause, Richardson explained that she loved using Snapchat.
“Unfortunately, every time I go to watch the stories my friends post on Snapchat, I am bombarded with featured stories from Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail and others,” she wrote. “And it is not just what the latest is on politics, sports or fashion. …The first ones I see, obviously very calculated in their placement, contain sexually explicit headlines and pictures that if I had the option to remove, I would.
“Do I have the option of what or not to watch the featured story in its entirety? Yes. But do I still have to see the headline and provocative photos that advertise them without the option of removing it? Yes. And that’s not OK.”
Richardson went on to explain that other social media outlets give the option of filtering and asks that Snapchat give users the same opportunity.
“Some of us actually DO NOT want to see pornography,” Richardson concluded. “And we should have the right to opt out of viewing it.”
Taking a stand against pornography is not a newfound passion for Richardson, whose platform in the 2015 Miss Utah pageant was “The Porn Problem: Protecting teens and children from the harms of pornography addiction.”
“I’ve been really involved in the anti-pornography movement over the past six years and this is my passion,” Richardson said. “As a pageant titleholder, educating on the harms of pornography was my service platform, so standing up for issues like this is something that has been really important to me for years. I’ve seen pornography affect people I love and I leap at any chance I have to speak up and help educate the public.”