Snapchat's 'Snap Map' raises privacy concerns

Snapchat has a new update and it's raising some eyebrows and safety concerns.

Snap Map is an opt-in feature that lets you share you location with your friends on a map, worldwide. Sounds cool right? But what if you're totally unaware you have this feature turned on to all your Snapchat friends and they can see you're every move.

Using your Bitmoji character on a map like a pin, Snap Map tracks your every location. Other users can zoom in and find out exactly where you are, down to a street address. Similar to Apple's 'Find My Friends.'

Andrew Rossow, a cyberspace and technology lawyer says the biggest concern is that users are updating the app without reading what the actual update consists of.

"This is problematic when it comes to children and teens who don’t yet fully understand or appreciate the risks and dangers of using location-based applications, games, and/or services," says Rossow. "This sets up a potential scenario for stalking, harassment, and other dangerous activities with potentially harmful consequences."

Freaked out yet? Don't worry- you can turn the feature of completely. Below are directions from the Snapchat website to help you enable and disable these options.

To open the Snap Map:

  1. Go to your Camera screen
  2. Put your fingers like this 👌 and pinch them in like you’re zooming out from a photo

Location sharing options:

When you open the Snap Map for the first time, you’ll get a prompt to choose who to share your location with. Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to update this setting later at any time.

Only Me (Ghost Mode): Your location won’t be visible to anyone else on the Map. When you’re in Ghost Mode, your Bitmoji will hold up a blue sign with a spooky specter 👻
My Friends: Your location will be visible to all of your friends on the Map as long as you are mutual friends. This includes any new friends you make too! If you want to choose this option later, go to ‘Select Friends…,’ scroll down to ‘All Friends,’ and tap ‘✓ Select All.’
Select Friends: Choose specific friends to share your location with. Friends you select won’t be notified that you chose them, but they’ll be able to see your location as long as you are mutual friends!
To edit your location settings, just tap the ⚙️ button in the top-right corner of the Map screen! You can change who can see your location, or you can hide your location altogether by going into Ghost Mode.

"There is no such thing as privacy anymore once you are online," Rossow says.

Childnet International, an children's internet safety advocacy group, released tips for how to safely use the Snap Map. Some of those tips include only sharing your location with people you know in person and regularly reviewing your settings and making an active decision about whether you want people to know your location.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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