Social media can seem like the antithesis of privacy most of the time, but the latest Snapchat update emphasizes just how important it is to keep some things to yourself.
Snapchat’s newest feature, Snap Map, goes beyond its typical geotagging by letting you share your location on a map. You can also see whereabouts your friends are hanging out, and even check out where Snapchat users are updating from around the world.
This sounds kind of cool, and after trying it out, I can confirm that it’s pretty neat to see people’s snaps from busy locations, like parks or concert venues. But get this: You can zoom in on the map and find someone’s exact location. And I mean exact.
Understandably, people are a little freaked out.
Men: Wow these maps are magical!
Women: It reveals your address shut it off shut it off shut it offhttps://t.co/BUNbxzKF2Y
— Karen McGrane (@karenmcgrane) June 22, 2017
Y’all worried about getting caught up? I’m worried about getting kidnapped or stalked tf https://t.co/y2SSZsVDD0
— Mykaela (@Kaelaniblossom) June 22, 2017
But are people having a fit over nothing? It’s worth noting that this feature is 100 percent opt-in only. In other words, it’s not set up by default. When you turn on Snap Maps for the first time, you’re given the option to let anyone see your location, only your friends (and you can even decide which friends can see you), or nobody–which is known as Ghost Mode–on the map. You can also toggle the Ghost Mode feature on and off pretty easily.
Still, the fact that you can allegedly get such a precise idea of where you are anywhere on a map is a little freaky. Even if you set up this feature as friends only, it could still spell trouble. If you’re beefing with an ex or you’re Snapchat friends with people you don’t know all that much (or forgot you were even Snapchat friends with in the first place), this feature could add a seriously unwanted creep factor into your life. Plus, these kinds of concerns aren’t exactly new. Instagram had the same issue with its geotagging feature for a while, until they changed the settings when users complained of privacy violations. One would think that Snapchat would have made sure to dodge that bullet when they rolled out this new feature, but alas.
Police and child advocacy groups are alarmed by the new feature and believe that it could be used to stalk people, including unsuspecting minors. A spokesperson for the National Society for the Protection of Children said, “It’s worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists.” They emphasized that this feature makes the case for social media networks to make certain features inaccessible for children by default.
I’d imagine that, in this case, it would mean that Snap Map wouldn’t even be available to you if the birth date you entered upon signing up for Snapchat (or the date associated with your Facebook, since many sites use Facebook logins) showed that you were under 18. Understandable, but teenagers have used false ages to sign up for online platforms all the time; it happened loads when MySpace was only for people 16 and up. So would that work? Probably not flawlessly, but who is really going to go through the trouble of making another Snapchat account just to use one feature? Not many, I’d assume.
All in all, Snap Maps is a pretty cool feature. I was able to see people’s public snaps from around the world, which is a great way to waste a lot of valuable time. But if you’re concerned about your privacy, set up the feature accordingly. When in doubt, make like Danny Phantom and go ghost.
What do you think of Snap Maps? Will you use it or is it a hard pass? Tell us in the comments!