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Snap Map: Friend or Foe?

The new Snap Map has been the centre of much discussion recently. Yes, it is quite cool, as Snapchat’s promotions of it demonstrate, to be able to find friends and sift through the evening’s social offerings. Where to go? A concert? That bar? This house party? The choice is yours! Although, now thinking about the latter, this is a sure-fire way to end up with guests you didn’t want and hassle you don’t need. 

Note: This article originally included the promotional video for Snap Map, from Snapchat’s YouTube channel. But it has since been removed from the site…curious. 

The reality is, of course, much less glossy, and a lot younger. If only Social Media activity were so self-contained. This is not how the youth of today work. They use it to expand their horizons and their friendship groups. Call me a pessimist, but not all of these new friends can necessarily be trusted. With the number of fake profiles always prominent, the risks of Social Media interactions heighten. With Snap Map, these people could have access to your location. And, the feature is automatically switched on when you download the app upgrade. 

Bbc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Snap Map will no doubt soon be infiltrated by people sharing photos of Starbuck’s coffee and endless selfies. A great number of these will come from under 18-year-olds. Snapchat doesn’t tend to release specific demographic data on U18s, but it is incredibly popular with the younger years, and has become highly integrated into their daily lives. Many a meltdown has been witnessed because a teenager couldn’t update their Snapchat streak. The dedication of their use, and the accuracy of the Snap Map, poses a potentially dangerous situation.

Starbucks Snap Map Snapchat

Kim Kardashian should’ve been a headline grabbing, all consuming lesson in this. Snapchat should’ve learnt that location services can make you a target for opportunistic crime. It seems strange to consciously offer a service that has been known to get people into sticky situations. Of course, it’s not the Kim Kardashian’s of the world that we’re really worried about here (sorry Kim). It’s the huge number of children who use Snapchat every day, to document and share every minute aspect of their lives. The location services are incredibly precise, and unless you alter the default settings, available for all your ‘friends’ to see.  You have to hope that all users only have their nearest and dearest on Snapchat…

However, a lot of the fear around this update is the possibility that total strangers can see your location when you share a snap to ‘Our Story’. Although initially outraged by this, upon closer inspection it seems that you cannot see user’s names or pictures in public stories, only the snap they post. Assuming you refrain from posting anything including your face, name or address, you should be okay. The main threat lies with those ‘friends’ you have accumulated on Snapchat over the years. The new Snap Map may not be an immediate danger from the first post, but a user who posts daily – as most of the younger demographic do – will slowly allow others to build a picture of where they go, and when, on a daily basis.Snapchat Snap Map Kim Kardashian

The Snap Map feature can be bypassed entirely by turning the map to ‘ghost mode’, or just denying Snapchat access to location services. The latter will of course strip the app of some of user’s favourite features, including location specific filters. Alternatively, you can choose the friends you share with and weed out any potential weirdos…having said that 13-year-olds are not known for having the best judgement here. For many parents, the new update poses an issue that will be very difficult to police.

Snapchat has become completely ingrained in many people’s daily social interaction, it plays a huge part in the world of celebrity and advertising, and it keeps Instagram on its toes! How the Snap Map will develop and be adopted is temporarily unclear. It seems ill-fitted to their older users, and likely banned by the parents of the youngest users. However, those teenagers in the middle of freedom and parental control are likely broadcasting more than is safe or sensible. We would suggest switching the update to ‘Ghost Mode’ until a thorough spring clean of your friends list has been completed. 

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