Snapchat has always known exactly where you are. What, you thought everyone saw that “Greetings from the Brooklyn Bridge” filter? Until recently, Snapchat didn’t do much with your location data beyond serving up geofilters and pushing location-specific stories. Sure, the app uses your whereabouts to help marketers sell you stuff, but what social media behemoth doesn’t?
This week, though, Snapchat unveiled a feature that leverages your location data in a whole new way, and it’s got a lot of people freaked out. Snap Map tracks your current location and places your Bitmoji avatar on a map like a pin. Others can zoom in and find exactly where you are, down to the street address. It’s sort of like Apple’s Find My Friends and Facebook’s Live Location feature—only, you know, on Snapchat.
Obviously, Snapchat sees Snap Map as a fun and convenient way to connect with friends. But for plenty of people, the new feature is just plain creepy. Some worry about the “stalker factor,” particularly for Snapchat’s younger users who might not fully grasp the implications of a technology that constantly broadcasts their location.
How to Opt Out
The good news: Snap Maps is technically opt-in. It doesn’t take effect until you update the app and go through the feature’s on-boarding flow. Once you do that, though, it’s fairly straightforward (as far as Snapchat goes) to opt-out of sharing your location with others. If you’re opening the app for the first time after the update, Snapchat will walk you through a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the Snap Map. First, it’ll show you how to pinch and zoom in the camera tool to access the map. Next, it’ll ask who you want to see your location.
You get three choices: all your friends, select friends, or only me. Choosing “only me” activates what Snapchat calls Ghost Mode. This makes your avatar disappear from others’ maps; like true poltergeist, you can see others but they can’t see you. Great for lurkers! But remember, Snapchat’s all seeing, all knowing eyes (ahem, your phone’s sensors) can still track your location. To turn off location data altogether, you’ll need to visit your phone’s settings where you can scroll down to Snapchat, click on “location,” and choose to never share.
If you’ve already gone through the tutorial and want to change who can see you on their map, that’s easy, too. Open Snap Map and click on the setting menu in the right hand corner, where you can decide who gets the privilege of tracking your every move.