Last week, the Snapchat app was updated with Snap Maps feature, which allows users to check out Snaps of sporting events, celebrations, news and much more from across the globe as well as share their location with their friends on the app.
But privacy advocates and media across the globe isn’t all that thrilled about the feature, primarily due to the privacy and security concerns surrounding the use — or rather, misuse — of Snap Map feature.
Snapchat is one of the most popular photo-sharing apps among teenagers and this update has led people to advocate the need to teach children as well as adults the importance of privacy on the Internet and the implications of sharing your location publically at all times.
Before we go further, let’s just make it clear that the Snap Map shares location only among mutual friends — that is, both the people are following one another — but it will show your location not only when you submit Snaps to Our Story, but everytime you shoot up the app.
How is Snap Map a Threat to Privacy?
Snap Map tracks and updates your current location every time you open the Snapchat app. This is understandable if you’re in a concert or an event and want to share your Snaps to Our Story about that public event, but you wouldn’t want all of your friends to know where you are at all times.
Although Snapchat states that the location data is deleted after a short period of time, they fail to mention for how long, but a regular deletion has been indicated. If a user doesn’t open the app for more than 8 hours, their location disappears from the Snap Map.
Other users can see when and where your last location was updated (eg. an hour ago, 2 hours ago) — that’s when you last opened Snapchat app — giving a rough idea of your whereabouts at almost all times.
Since there is also an option to share your location with all your Friends on Snapchat — immaterial of whether or not you follow them — children who’re increasingly using Snapchat should be educated regarding the importance of privacy. In its absence, teen or pre-teen users might end up sharing their location with people they shouldn’t be.
The Snap Map location feature, until turned off will keep sending your location update to either all your friends or mutual friends only. Users have the option to select the ‘Ghost Mode’ which allows them to check out the map without updating their location.
Dani Deahl of The Verge was able to pinpoint the residency of one of his friend’s directly via the Snap Maps even though he had never been to that friend’s place. What’s more, the concerned friend wasn’t even aware that she’s broadcasting her location on the Snapchat app.
To state the obvious, the Snap Map can be a suitable avenue for stalkers and other anti-social elements to search for an unsuspecting prey and give wings to their illicit motives — all with the flick of a finger and the Snapchat apps latest Snap Map feature.
If you’re looking to revoke Snapchat’s ability to trace your location, then the safest bet would be to go to the ‘App Permissions’ window of Snapchat via the device settings and toggling off the Location permission.