New Snapchat Feature Is a Threat to Privacy

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Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms today, especially among teens and young adult users. It was developed by Evan SpiegelBobby Murphy and Reggie Brown to change how people communicate and interact with each other. Snapchat is different from other popular social media platforms, like: Facebook and Twitter. Users can take photo or video Snaps and send them to their friends where they would disappear once viewed by the recipient. Snapchat is notably famous for its funny filters for photos and videos. Users can take selfies and record videos and apply puppy faces or make themselves sound as if on Helium.

A new feature has been recently introduced, called “Snap Map” which uses a device’s GPS sensor to enable users to share their location on a map with their friends or some friends on “Snaps to Our Story” which is public and users will be shown as Bitmojis on the map.

 “These Snaps are sorted using advanced machine learning techniques that aim to surface interesting Snaps that are also safe and fun for our community,” Snapchat spokesman said.

As fun as Snap Map sounds, it is also equally disturbing because if users are careless, Snap Map will accurately publish their location to everyone on their friends list every time they open the application not just when you share a Story. When you open Snapchat’s Snap Map, you will most probably see a Bitmoji of at least one of your friends located somewhere, e.g: home, café, cinema, library, etc. Even if you have no idea where your friend lives, Snap Map will tell you exactly where they are located. What’s even more alarming is the fact that your friend might not be aware that Snap Map is enabled.

In light of this fact, Snap Map is something that has come out of Pandora’s Box. What if you or a family member is home alone and decide to open Snap Chat to check Snaps. Your location can be also exposed when you open the app to check messages sent by your friends.

Not only does Snap Map threaten the privacy of adults, but it threatens the safety of children. The police expressed serious concerns that Snap Map could be for stalking children. They have issued warning for parents to make sure that Snap Map is disabled on their children’s phones, especially those in their teens, by selecting the Ghost Mode setting.

“It’s worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists.” […] “With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user. This highlights why it’s vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks,” Said the spokesperson of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The UK Safer Internet Centre said: “Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person.”