Snap Map – Cool Or Creepy?

July 27, 2017

Snap Map – Cool Or Creepy?

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Casey Goldman

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Not a caramel cream extra whip with chocolate shavings whatever. A coffee please. Born in Pekin, Illinois and raised in the town's mediocre foster care system, I found myself exploring other cities by the young age of 18. I've since lived in DeKalb, IL, Boston, Ma, Valencia, Spain and currently Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a double bachelors degree in business management/finance and marketing.

 

Is the new Snapchat feature, Snap Map, cool or creepy? Both. Definitely both.

Is the new #Snapchat feature, #SnapMap, cool or creepy? Both. Definitely both. Click To Tweet

If you are one of the millions of users who have a Bitmoji (a cartoonish caricature that you designed yourself via the Bitmoji app) to use within Snapchat, you have certainly noticed the new Snapchat feature, Snap Map.

To access Snap Map, all you have to do is open Snapchat, remain on the page where you take a snap, but instead of pressing the photo button, use two fingers to “zoom out” and BAM! You are looking at your little Bitmoji, sitting on a map, located on wherever you are sitting in real life. And it is very accurate.

Snap Map doesn’t stop there. If you zoom out or scroll across the map, you can see where all of your Bitmoji/Snapchat-using friends are too! And they can see you. Wherever you are in the world. The map is so specific that the closer you zoom in, you can see the exact buildings that your friends are in. For example, one of my snap friends was on vacation in Greece, and just by zooming in on her Bitmoji, I could see exactly which hotel she was staying at, or whether she was touring the city. The feature also tells you the time and temperature of your friend’s location. Knowing their time zone and temperature isn’t all that creepy, as it’s public knowledge. But knowing exactly which hotel someone is in… Well, that could be a problem for famous Snapchatters and snappers with stalkers. We’ll talk about hiding, or going into “ghost mode” a little later, which is the solution to being tracked- if you remember to turn ghost mode on, that is.

Last week, I traveled to Cincinnati for a weekend vacation. When I landed, I had a text from my best friend. It was a screenshot of the Snap Map showing my Bitmoji in an airplane with a text “How’s the flight? I’ll text you when you land.” I didn’t tell Snapchat that I was flying anywhere, and in fact, had my phone turned on airplane mode during the entire flight (obviously). Somehow, though, Snapchat was still tracking me using GPS and showing all my snap friends the progress of my flight. Sure enough, when she saw that my Bitmoji had landed in Cincinnati, I got another text letting me know that she knew that I had arrived safely. Next, I got a screenshot of my Bitmoji in a car and a text “Driving down Capital Street, eh?” At this point she was just being funny because I had called her a professional stalker, so she was really hamming it up. But! What if she was a stalker? Or a crazy ex?

The Snap Map shows your Snap Contacts (let’s be real, you aren’t “friends” with everyone in your snap list) exactly where you are, if you are in a vehicle, if you are listening to music, if you are at home, who you are with, everything! There have been concerns that significant others, obsessive friends, overprotective parents, and others will use this feature as a tool to “spy” with. For those who are concerned about this type of activity, Snapchat does have a ghost mode feature, where you can hide yourself from the map. The only problem is that if you do have a crazy boyfriend or another type of obsessed-with-you person, they might get suspicious of you hiding information from them by being in ghost mode (sort of like how Snapchat used to show your top three “best friends” on Snapchat, and certain significant others became notorious for making their S/O send them a screenshot of their besties).

Even if you are on ghost mode though, the Snap Map phenomenon begs the question, Is this hackable? If your location can be tracked even when your phone is on airplane mode, can it be tracked on ghost mode? Can your phone be tracked on airplane mode even if you don’t have Bitmoji, or even if you don’t have Snapchat at all?

 

If so, the responsibility would not lay with Snapchat, and Snapchat legally is not violating any privacy laws since users elect to download the app, have Bitmoji and choose whether or not to be on ghost mode. But it still makes you wonder. It makes me think of how celebrity photos get hacked and leaked from the celebrity’s private cloud accounts to the public. If no level of security can prevent high profile people’s cloud accounts from being broken into, how safe are we? Our phones are in our pockets or hands all day and on our night stands while we sleep. We are never without our phones. Should we be worried? Probably not, but we should all still take precautions to protect ourselves and our privacy. If no level of security can prevent high profile people’s cloud accounts from being broken into, how safe… Click To Tweet

Now that we got through why Snap Map is kind of creepy, let’s talk about the cool features. Though it is on the creepy list too, it’s also cool that you can see where your friends are. Talking about my friend in Greece again, I had no idea she was going to Greece! It was awesome to check my Snap Map and see her hanging out in Mykonos. Another time, I logged in and saw my pal Nick in a plane flying out west. Personally, I am a little stingy with who I add as my friend on Snapchat, so I thought it was silly and fun when my best friend was sending me those screenshots of me on an airplane and in a car driving around Cincinnati. In other words, I have my Snap Map set so that any of my friends can see where I am, what vehicle I am in and whether or not I am listening to music because I only have people in my friends list who are my true friends in real life, none of whom are stalkers (I think?).

 

Another cool aspect of Snap Map is that you can view the map and see events all around the world. If there is a hot air balloon fair happening in Phoenix, it will pop up on your map. If your city is having a pride festival, you will see it on your map. If you click the event bubble, you can watch live snaps that attendees are posting to see if it’s cool or a bust. You are even able to see who of your snap friends are at the event! That’s really cool, unless of course you catch all of your friends hanging out without you. Or if you have an obsessed ex who you don’t want to know that you are at the Beyonce concert with your new bae.

Overall, I think the Snap Map is cool if you play it safe. Remember when Instagram and Facebook came out with the ability to location tag and everyone got paranoid? Snap Map is in the same boat and will soon be treated as the norm, just like Facebook and Instagram are. But! With any social media, play it smart and safe and it can be a really fun tool to keep in touch with all of your friends and acquaintances and that guy you met at a gas station in Des Moines who added you on Snapchat.

 

 

 

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