Snapchat’s New Map Feature Is A Massive Privacy Threat

By @TheMarkDalton

Last week Snapchat introduced Snap Map, an opt-in function which allows you to share your location with friends on a map. Using Snap Map you can see the location of your friends, colleagues and family members on a virtual map. 

Snap Map shares your current location and friends appear on the map as their Bitmoji. While Snap will see it as a new exciting way to explore the world, I’m not so convinced.

The big barrier over recent months has been the problem of discoverability on the platform. This is almost like Snapchat’s attempt to break through some of the barriers and help users find new content and make new connections.

While you can see your friends in Bitmoji form you can also see a heatmap of where snaps are coming from on the app and you can dive in and have a look at these too. Exploring the heat map I was able to dive into snaps from a house party taken at 4am when everyone is a bit worse for wear. I was able to jump into snaps of people at their jobs and in their homes.

The map is incredible detailed to the point where I can see exactly where friends are, like I can pinpoint the street they are on using Snap Map and when investigating how accurate the map was I found it to be pretty much on the money. People are where the map says they are, pretty much spot on.

Heres the thing, this level of tracking. This level of accuracy and detail in a social app on a map is straight up creepy. It doesn’t feel normal, it feels far from healthy.

Using the map I feel as if I have access to information that I just shouldn’t have access to. You can see where friends are sleeping at night, you can see if they are shopping, you can see if they are at the gym. Because if they are avid Snapchat users which most people who download the app are then their location is broadcast every time they open the app.

I could see friends at the shops, I could see friends eating out in a restaurant, I could see friends getting their work out in the gym. You don’t need to be posting snaps, once you open the app the map is updated every time you use it.

You are straight up tracking people’s locations throughout the day and that is just weird. Its stalker level stuff and it feels inherently wrong. Even worse, think of the negative side of using a tool like this. What if you are browsing Snapchat one evening and see all your friends together in bitmoji form hanging out without you. What about people in a relationship now having access to a tool where they can literally track each others locations.

Police forces have raised child safety concerns about the new Snap Map feature and parents have been warned to turn off Snap Maps on their children’s phone if it has been enabled (there is a link on how to do this at the bottom of this piece).

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.

With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user. This highlights why it’s vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks.”

You can activate ghost mode but thats just as creepy if you continue using the map. It allows you to stalk on the map without anyone being able to see you. The biggest problem people have with a tool like this of course is FOMO (fear of missing out):

Of course you can get out of all this madness and have nothing to do with Snap Map (probably a good idea if you ask me) and here is how you disable if you have got sucked in and now want out: