In the summer of 2017, Snapchat added a new feature to its app. The “SnapMap” utilizes iPhone’s location services to hone in on users’ location. The app will show the user’s current or last known location to their SnapChat friends.

Here’s what you need to know:

Can I control this feature?   Snapchat now requires that you allow the app to use your location services if you want to access varied geofilters and news stories. However, the SnapMap location sharing feature is optional. In fact, the Snapchat app’s default setting for this feature is “off.” Snapchat calls this “Ghost Mode.” You may opt-in to share your location with your Snapchat friends. Otherwise, you can choose to stay in “Ghost Mode,” preventing anyone from seeing your location.

Where do I change my settings for this feature? You can access the choices for the SnapMap under “See My Location” in Settings. Even if you stay in “Ghost Mode,” you can use the rest of the features on the app. “Ghost Mode” only prevents the use of the SnapMap.

Who can see my location? When you turn off Ghost Mode, Snapchat initially broadcasts your location to all of your Snapchat friends. Even if they themselves are not sharing their location, they can see yours. You can choose to allow all of your Snapchat friends to view your location. Also, you can choose to share your location only with a custom group. Only your Snapchat friends can see your location — it is not public. However, anyone who is your friend on Snapchat could share your location with others via a screenshot.

Is my location constantly shared? No. Your location is updated each time you open the app. For example, if the last time you opened the app was at home and you have not opened it since, even though you are at work now, Snapchat will share your home location. In the SnapMap, you can click on a friend’s icon and see how long it has been since their location was updated.

How do I get to the SnapMap? You can access the SnapMap by “zooming-out,” or by swiping your pointer and thumb together on the Snapchat camera page. This should reveal the map and your friends’ locations.

What’s “Our Story”? The SnapMap also features an “Our Story” section. Users can opt to upload snap stories to “Our Story,” a public collection of various snap stories from users in a certain area. All users, friend or not, can see the snaps uploaded to “Our Story.”

Parents must be aware of this feature. These location-sharing settings pose a significant danger for teens. It puts them at risk for bullying and predator targeting under a false account. Monitor your teen’s use of these services and who they share their location with. In addition, be aware of who your children have friended on Snapchat and other social media platforms. Remember that a connection that starts on an app may move into the real world. Create and maintain an honest and open channel of communication with you children. Encourage them to let you know if the conversation moves to e-mail or text, and if it makes them uncomfortable. It is all too easy for strangers to hide behind fake accounts and take advantage of unsuspecting teens.

By Amy Haupt


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