Digital Dangers Lurking in Maps

Location tracking apps are certainly not new.  But Snapchat’s new Snap Map feature has reignited the conversation around location tracking apps and privacy.

I will assume that you know what is Snapchat.  The popular messaging app launched a new feature encouraging users to share their current location in real time on an interactive map.  Facebook and other social media apps have previously offered delayed and real time location notification, but Snapchat’s adds their twist by populating that data on a map.

With the Snap Map feature, Snap hopes its users will use the new feature to engage in real life and then create more content for the platform. Let’s stop for a moment and consider the irony of the digital social media app encouraging us to be more physically social.

Opponents of the new feature tout well founded privacy concerns, especially if the feature is not monitored.  But in fact, it is.

Snap Map is an “opt-in” feature, meaning users must consciously turn it on to activate.  The feature is also highly customizable.  Users can limit who can see their live location for specific persons, friends or the world.  In ghost mode, users can see where friends are without revealing their own location.

It's important to note that the app only shares your location when the app is open.  Once closed, location data is not shared and there is no background location tracking.

Though very popular, Snapchat faces stiff competition from its rival Instagram (IG), owned by Facebook.  There is no word yet on whether IG will other a similar feature soon.

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