On June 22nd Snapchat unveiled Snap Map a new feature that not only broadcasts users’ location of their Snaps, but can also reveal their current location, even when they aren’t actively using the app. A perfect storm? Quite possibly.
While it’s common practice to geotag photos with geographical details, many users don’t realize that Snap Maps not only tags Snaps, but will also continue to broadcast users’ location any time they open the app. With no prompt, anytime a user submits or views others’ Snaps, their name appears on a map, right down to the street address.
75% of all U.S. teens use Snapchat
Keep in mind that not all of Snapchat’s 150 million users can see your location. Instead, Snap Maps only works with people on your friends’ list. Problem solved? Not exactly. Pew Research shows that the average Facebook friends list is composed of 7% strangers. And though there is no research specific on Snapchat, it’s safe to assume a certain portion of most users’ friends’ list includes people they’ve never met in person.
And this leads to the centerpoint of the controversy: Though it might be permissible for kids to broadcast their location to friends, if those “friends” include strangers, problems could quickly arise.
So what can you do to project your children from unwittingly sharing their location information? First it’s critical to have an understanding of the issues at hand, despite the app’s confusing interface. Secondly, talk to your child about the importance of protecting not just their digital footprint, but also their physical privacy.
Lastly, know your options when it comes to Snap Maps, listed below:
Ghost Mode: This basically disables the Geo tracking. Your location will not be added to any snaps, and you will not appear on Snap Maps. This is the safest option and without a doubt the best moving forward if you have any children. To enable Ghost Mode pinch the screen, select your avatar, select the gear icon, then enable Ghost Mode.
Extra points if you disable location information by going into iOS settings, choosing Snapchat and disabling location tracker.
Selected Friends: This gives you the ability to select certain friends from your friends list that you’ll allow to see your current location.If you must broadcast yourself to the world, it’s best to select only specific people you see regularly.
Friends List: This displays your location to anyone currently on your friends list. This is the most dangerous option and should never be chosen.
In this increasingly connected world, an idea like this seems par for the course, but this update in particular seems reckless. And the youngest amongst us are once again put in most danger.