On June 21st, Snapchat introduced its newest feature: Snapchat Map. The opt-in feature allows you to share your location with your Snapchat friends; once turned on, any mutual friend can zoom-in on your icon and pinpoint your location, down to the exact street you're on. While your location only updates when you open the Snapchat app, this also means that every time you open the app, even if only to watch a friend's Snapchat or scroll through your feed, your location is updated as well.
While Snapchat does allow you to update your settings – a user can choose to remain invisible on the map (Ghost Mode), share with only their mutual friends (My Friends), or share with only select friend (Select Friends) – it also brings up the question of safety.
Most people don't diligently read through the full terms & conditions when updating an app. This means that many Snapchat users may have accepted the SnapMap update without fully understanding its implications. For example, someone may choose to share their location with their friends without realizing that it will be updated each time they open the app. And for those of us with Snapchat friends that we may not know in real life (i.e., other businesses, bloggers, etc.), if left on, SnapMap could allow them to access our location as well.
So what's the bigger picture?
As social media platforms and apps continue to develop, it's important to think about your own personal guidelines and values when it comes to the privacy of your business and your personal accounts. For example, if you have a business account, SnapMap could potentially be helpful; it would allow you to have your store's location appear on the map, thus making it available to potential customers. This would be extra helpful during store events that are promoted on Snapchat. But you'd also have to remember to either log out of the account or return to Ghost Mode after the event.
While SnapMap is innovative and interesting, it also requires us to think more critically about how, when, and where we share content.
Story by: Isabelle Edwards