Last week Snapchat launched Snap Map, an opt-in mobile based function that allows users to share their location with their friends on a map. Snapchat’s Snap Map introduction video to Snap Map, as seen above, centers on sharing the location of posted Snaps to Our Story, which is public, and could be used for seeing a collection of Snaps from a particular event. It’s easy to see the purpose behind the app and why Snap Chat, who is working hard to get their stock price back up to the initial IPO price, was banking on this new launch.
But what Snapchat doesn’t tell you in the video is that unless the snap map user takes certain precautions Snap Map will broadcast their current location to anyone on their friends list every time they open the app.
When you update Snapchat and get to the Snap Map walkthrough, as seen below, there are only three screens that need to be clicked through to complete it. In fairness, it does mention sharing your location, but it’s certainly vague on what that exactly means. Users might not understand that Snap is posting your location on Snap Map every time you open the app. Not just when you share Snaps to Our Story.
The Snap Map feature displays a map of nearby friends, showing their latest location using the phone’s GPS sensor. Users of the Snap Chat app can also search for locations such as a school, with the app displaying public photos and videos sent by students. While this app is to increase the community feel, definitely at the root of social media, and designed to help friends meet up. However, it can be a concern for the younger users who may not know everyone on their friends list, but are still publishing their location for all to see. Those who are concerned about the potential security risk with Snap Map should place the setting on “ghost mode” which does not share the user’s location with anyone.
“It is important to be careful about who you share your location with,” said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell, “It can allow people to learn your travel patterns such as where you live, go to school and how you spend your time. It can also let a potential burglar know when you are not home.”
To place the app in “ghost mode”, open your Snapchat and pinch the screen when you’re on the Snapchat camera. Then turn the ghost mode on.
Snapchat’s new Snap Map is getting some tough reviews because of security issues, but most likely their target audience will appreciate the additional community aspect to the app. As always, personal responsibility and caution is primarily up to the user. We’ll share a number of other personal security risks that social media and mobile devices can bring to our lives.