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Don't want lurkers tracking you on Snapchat's Snap Map? You've got options

Monday 26th June 2017

Snapchat already knew where you were. Now decide whether you want to share that info with your friends - or not.


Snapchat is billing the app's new Snap Map update  as a "a whole new way to explore the world", but it also has some creepy implications.

The photo-sharing app allows users to share their location with friends in real time, meaning the user’s avatar, called an “actionmoji” will appear on the map and sometimes even include what they’re doing.

If you’re travelling on the motorway, the app can use your speed to place your actionmoji in a car. It also uses the time of day to change your actionmoji to wear pyjamas and have little ZZZs above your head to signal you are sleeping.

The new update uses a Google Maps-type style, meaning users can see the exact location of your friends down to the road name. If you know which road your friends live on you can see that they’re at home, but if you don’t know exactly where your friends live, you now can.

A journalist at The Verge has called out Snapchat for not being more upfront about how the update works in the introduction info for Snap Map and police in New Zealand have flagged up their concerns about users unwittingly being tracked in real time.


To find the map, simply pinch the screen when in camera mode.

There are three ways the update can be used: You can show your location to all of your friends, only selected friends, or you can search the map in ghost mode meaning your location is hidden. But beware, if you set it to share your location with all your friends it will do so every time you open the app until you switch it to a different mode.

Your actionmoji changes everytime you open the app and if it is not opened for more than eight hours, you’re removed from the map.

A Snapchat spokesperson told The Verge that the company will delete precise location data after a short period of time, but this period of time was not named.


According to Snapchat’s privacy policy it may collect information about your location and, with consent, precise location using GPS methods. It also collects usage, content, and device information.

Snapchat does have an option for you to download your data, similar to those of Facebook and Google.

This data shows recent logins with exact time, date and city you were in; the number of messages you’ve recently sent and received; purchases made on the app, and your recent locations.

The app also holds basic demographic information such as email addresses, phone numbers, age and gender.

The new update definitely raises queries surrounding privacy issues, but the company says this is resolved by the fact that it is a voluntary act to sign up to Snapchat and agree to the terms and conditions, saying: “if you don’t agree with them, then don’t use the services”.

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Hannah is an AUT journalism student who also volunteers for 95bFM.
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