A few weeks back, Snapchat introduced its newest feature: Snap Maps. The app’s newest attribute allows you to share your current physical location with anyone that you’re already friends with on the app.
While Snap Maps seems like a great idea from a social standpoint (as demonstrated by the Snap Map introduction video), it clearly raises a variety of privacy issues that individuals have never had to deal with before.
In Snapchat’s feature announcement blog post, the company writes “We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to on an adventure!”
Unfortunately, one thing that Snapchat neglects to mention is that your exact location can be publicly broadcast to your Snapchat friends every time you open the app, if you aren’t careful. While the new feature is opt-in only, it’s not immediately apparent that you’re displaying your exact location every time you open the app.
Snap Maps: Children’s Privacy
In today’s world of connected toys and devices, many children are unaware of the dangers of sharing their location with strangers, or even people that they know personally. Given Snapchat’s attractiveness to youth culture, a number of children’s privacy advocacy groups have spoken out against the new feature. Childnet International, a group dedicated to working with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children issued the following tips in regards to the new feature:
- Only share your location with people you know in person. Never share your location with strangers
- Don’t add contacts to Snapchat if you don’t know them in person
- Regularly review your settings and take an active decision about whether you want people to know your location. Remember you can switch this off at any time. Think about where you’re sharing your location. Location services such as Snap Maps can lead people to your house. Think about what times you’re on the app and whether these are locations you want to share – if not, then turn this off within your settings
“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,” said a spokesperson for The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
The tips above may seem like common sense to some, but the majority of Snapchat users are likely a part of a younger generation less concerned with their personal privacy, or just unaware of the potential threats associated with broadcasting your current location online.
Going “Ghost Mode”
The Snap Maps feature of Snapchat is opt-in only, and we’d recommend disabling this feature all together. The disappointing piece of this feature is once you’ve enabled it, it can’t be disabled. However, you can disable the sharing of your personal location with your contacts by going into “Ghost Mode”.
To disable the sharing of your location via Snap Maps, use the following steps:
1) Open Snap Map by pinching two fingers together like you’re zooming-out on a photo from the main camera screen inside the app
2) Click the ‘gear’ icon in the top right corner of the screen
3) Enable “Ghost Mode” using the toggle switch
All in all, the introduction of Snap Maps presents a new facet to online privacy concerns, many of which parents and their children have never had to deal with before. Staying educated and up to date with all of your apps’ privacy policies is the best way to ensure the protection of your privacy.
Remember, you can use Blur to create anonymous accounts and secure passwords for all of your favorite apps, including Snapchat! Sign up for Blur today.