What’s Snapchat’s New “Snap Map”?

Parents, Students, Educators, Friends, Digital Natives, Digital Apprentices….Listen Up!

Image result for snap maps
Source: The Telegraph

I was sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car as my friends in the back casually opened their snaps, tried to find new geotags, and responded with silly faces and filters. It was the usual conundrum until one screamed, “Look, Annie is at Walgreens! Woah, Jessie is in Indiana!” I was truly in awe when my friend showed me how she knew all that information from her screen. The first thing that struck me: “What about privacy?”

If you got the update, the new feature on Snapchat, called “Snap Map” allows people to view the location of their other friends on Snapchat just pinching their screen. This then pulls up a map of the world, which has small Bitmoji characters [Little characters that look like the users] pinned in different locations on the map. When someone posts an image or video on the “our story” feature at that location, it is also added to the map so when you the Bitmoji is clicked, you can see what they’re up to at their location. The purpose? To connect you with your friends, and provide more events that may interest you. Although our curious nature leaves us always wanting to know the whereabouts of our friends to stop experiencing FOMO [Fear of Missing Out], it appears that we need to then become EVEN MORE RESPONSIBLE while using this form of social media. We are openly giving away to the snapworld and all our friends where we are and what we are doing at that location. Although this just hit us that we are openly giving this up, all this data is nothing new to Snapchat. As we explained in this blog post weeks ago, Snapchat already records your whereabouts data and stores it. However, with this new setting, you instantly make that information public. Remember, with more features, comes more responsibility!

Here’s what you need to know about Snap Map:

Image result for snap maps
Source: Business Insider, Directly After the Update
  • If you chose to share your location, it is updated every time you open the application.
  • Yes, if you are snapping HOME ALONE, your location will show up!
  • You can see the locations in detail, down to the street that the person is at.
  • Snapchat asks the user periodically if they are comfortable sharing their location: Here’s your time to think it through!
  • Only mutual friends can see each other’s location
  • You can see big events that are happening too, where many stories are being posted from. [the main purpose of the feature]
  • If you tap on the Bitmoji, the user’s name and the last time they were on Snapchat [also the time that their location updated] will be displayed.
  • Your location stays for 8 hours. If you have not opened Snapchat in 8 hours, your location will be deleted from the map, and readded when you DO open the application.

#HavetheTalk Teenage Truths 101:

  • We love seeing these! We constantly want to know where our friends are at.
    • Gives us a topic of conversation
  • We don’t know how this could hurt us. What’s the worst that could happen?
    • My friends already pretty much know where I live.
  • All my friends have it! Why wouldn’t I want to share the same information that they are sharing?
    • We all still seem to be alive, right?

It has already had some controversy in the media. For instance, Wired quoted that the younger children “‘might not fully grasp the implications of a technology that constantly tracks their location’. Police have also issued warnings, telling parents the risks that this feature poses to their child’s safety. Here, I am here to teach you all about the feature and what you can do to opt-out, and not share your location altogether.

In this blog post, I’m going to teach you how to turn off your location on the map, so that is always an open option for you, your child, or your student! Here we go!


Image result for snapmaps settings
Source: CNBC

Note: These are the instructions if you have already gotten the update and agreed to share your location. If you have not yet and are getting the update, you will see these options as you reopen your app.


  1.  Open SnapMap by pinching your Snapchat screen
  2. Click on the “Settings” menu in the right-hand corner
  3. Here, you will see 3 options for privacy: All friends, select friends, or Only Me
    1. If you select “Only Me,” which is how you turn this service off, you will go into “Ghost Mode”
    2. You will still be able to see others’ locations [if they do not turn off this service], but they will not be able to see you.

However, this will still allow Snapchat to access your location and data. Here’s how you would, ideally, make your account private [location-wise]:

  1. Go to your phone Settings
  2. Click on the “Snapchat” button
  3. Scroll to “Location”
  4. Switch the toggle to “Never”
    1. Disclaimer: This means you will no longer be able to receive geotags, but you will get other filters that do not reveal location.

Now that you know a lot more about the feature itself, the risks it poses, and the way to opt-out, it seems we have reached the end of today’s lesson! I’ll leave you with this impactful quote. As eSafety Expert, Wayne Denner, wrote on his blog recently,

At the moment there is no end in sight in the race between social media giants to stay on top. And no regulation despite the obvious threats to children and young people’s safety. So it’s crucial that our generation of adults has at least an understanding of messaging, video and live streaming apps, and the risks posed to children with the constant barrage of new features.

Be a responsible snapper and as always, stay safe online while inspiring others to do the same.


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