New Snapchat Geofilters Proliferate On Harvard’s Campus

Since the first campus Snapchat geofilter came to Harvard last February, a number of students have brought a slew of new designs to showcase on-campus spots. {shortcode-38ada496f115a173af827aa5abaec25bef6534b9}

Picture-messaging application Snapchat first launched geofilters in the summer of 2014. The location-based stickers, which creatively tag the place someone takes a Snapchat photo, quickly took off among college-aged users, but Harvard seemed to lag behind the trend, Alana M. Steinberg ’18, a Crimson multimedia editor, observed.

“I saw all of my friends at different schools with these geofilters,” she said. “We were late in the game.”

Steinberg, who did graphic design in high school, decided to take matters into her own hands and soon brought Harvard its very first filter: a “Harvard” header in classic red and white script. The project was so well-received that Steinberg quickly followed up with more, creating geofilters for the Radciffe Quad, Annenberg Hall, and, most recently, Widener Library.

The popularity of Steinberg’s designs inspired a number of campus groups, including extracurricular organizations and social clubs, to seek out her services to get filters of their own.


“Several organizations have come up to me asking,” Steinberg said. “I do a good amount of consulting on geofilters also.”

Other groups developed their own designs. The Harvard Advocate, an undergraduate literary magazine, launched a filter for its headquarters at 21 South Street on Feb. 10.

Advocate Design Editor Mahan Nekoui ’17 said the focus of the geofilter project was the larger campus community, not merely the magazine staff.

“This is for the magazine, sure, but it’s also for the readers, the community, and everybody that interacts with The Advocate,” he said.

Harvard’s residential Houses have also recognized the community-building potential of the Snapchat geofilter feature. Available in and around Mather, for example, is a filter that features the House’s distinctive concrete tower.

“I really think it helps broadcast a sense of unity among Mather residents,” Mather House Committee co-chair Trevor A. Mullin ’17 said, though he does not know who was responsible for creating the filter.

Other Houses are actively working toward publishing Snapchat geofilters of their own. The Leverett House Committee hopes that a Leverett geofilter will soon allow residents to share their House spirit with the rest of the campus community. The Eliot House Committee is also looking into the possibility of making one, Eliot House Committee co-chair Larissa M. Rocha ’17 said.

The rapid growth in the number of Snapchat geofilters available across campus is an entirely student-led phenomenon. In theory, anyone can design and submit a new filter to Snapchat’s website for review.

“Anyone who knows how to use photoshop and can make these in the right format is able to make one,” Steinberg said. However, she also noted the difficulty of getting submissions approved. “It’s actually much more difficult than people realize,” she added.

Though the trend is not related to any official efforts by Harvard administrators or the Undergraduate Council, UC Representative Evan M. Bonsall ’19 said the geofilters serve their goals for reshaping social life at the College.

“The really cool thing about [geofilters] from a student government perspective is that this is something that we haven’t had to sort of push people to do,” he said. “People are deciding, in some small way, to improve social life on campus on their own.”