Snapchat the popular image messaging app has recently launched a new feature called Snap Map. This allows users to view each other’s exact location by plotting their positions onto a map. This feature gives Snapchatters the opportunity to track the whereabouts of other users. As a result possibly even get an insight into what they are doing. Ever since the update, Snap Map has faced heavy criticism due to the obvious privacy and safety concerns arising because of the update.
Snap Map: Causes of concerns
The new maps feature ask the user whether they would like to share their location. However, it fails to inform the user that their location will be updated every time they open the app. This could mean that unknowingly people may be sharing personal details such as the places they visit, with multiple individuals. This blatant violation of privacy also may give rise to very dangerous situations if the information falls into the wrong hands. Stalkers, bullies, criminals and other dangerous people could literally use Snap Map as a tool to track down individuals. To make matters worse, the maps are very accurate and provide the users with highly precise locations in real time.
Though Snapchat has provided users with the option to select “ghost” mode (making their location not visible to anyone), many individuals may not understand the implications of sharing their location openly especially children and young teens, who after all are the most vulnerable. To make matters worse when the user chooses to share their location with friends, the information isn’t limited to friends, but can even be seen by even friends of friends, and therefore the user’s information is invariably getting shared with people they may not even necessarily know!
On their website, Snapchat wrote “We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!”. Snapchat has released a video introducing Snap Map:
Snap Map has its own appeal and is a pretty cool new feature. However, the risks it poses are also pretty serious, perhaps Snapchat could think about adding a safety feature to Snap Map. This, in turn, could make it more secure and less controversial.