Where are you on the Snapchat Map?
With 158 million people using the Snapchat App daily it’s become part of everyday life. It lets you send quick photos and videos to your friends, letting them know what it is you’re getting up to in real time. There’s even a ‘filters’ feature which lets you apply a variety of digital lenses to your face, allowing you try on a flower crown, or become a puppy. All of these features make Snapchat a fun way to interact with other people, making it easy to understand why it’s adored by people around the world.
Now Snapchat’s newest feature, the Snapchat map, is making headlines this week by allowing you to see where your friends are and what they’re doing. The feature also allows you to see a variety of ‘stories’ that are being shared from everyday or event profiles from all around the world. You’re represented by a cartoon avatar which you can customise to look like you on an app called Bitmoji. Your cartoon self can then use the location services on your phone to estimate what activity you are currently doing by monitoring travel speed, and phone useage. For example, if you’ve not been using your phone for a few hours at night, then the app will change your cartoon avatar to represent you sleeping.
So what’s the problem?
Whilst watching your cartoon version of you and your friends interact in real time on a map can be an indulgement to the curiosity, it can reveal things such as when your house is vacant, or where you’ve left your car. Additionally for younger, more naїve users who may not be aware of the new features sinister connotations, they may not be aware of the dangers of broadcasting their exact location to the relative strangers in their contacts list. As this is an ‘opt-out’ service, some people may not even be aware that the app is accessing this information.
So what can you do about it?
Don’t worry! You can do something about it. Snapchat allows a user to go into ‘ghost mode’ which allows you to completely remove your cartoon avatar from the snapchat map. Or, if you prefer, you can select which friends are able to see where you are rather than publicising your location to everyone.
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