New “Snap Map” feature raises privacy concerns on Snapchat

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “I think it’s horrifying. I don’t really want everybody to know where I am at all times,” said Ally Costanza of Buffalo.

When Snapchat users zoom out on the camera screen, a map will pop up. It’s a new feature called “Snap Map” that constantly tracks your location and shares it with your friends, if you allow it.

“There are people on my list that I don’t want them to know exactly where I am,” said Beth Sharry of Buffalo.

“The one good thing that Snapchat did is they made it such so it’s not a default setting, you have to enable it. But once you enable it that setting stays on so if you’ve forgotten about it your location is now getting leaked,” said Arun Vishwanath, Cyber Security Expert and University at Buffalo Professor of Communication.

Once you enable the feature, your location anywhere around the world will be shown each time you go on Snapchat. Vishwanath says most people look at their apps, like Snapchat, at least 20 times a day.

“Most of the users, in fact Snapchat is one of the most highly used apps when it comes to elementary schools and middle schools. So a lot of these are really young people who really don’t understand privacy or location as much or care about it,” said Vishwanath.

Vishwanath says a lot of kids add people they don’t know on Snapchat, and this new feature could put them in danger by revealing their location to strangers.

“And as you walk through the day now your location is getting revealed more and more that’s a big fear,” said Vishwanath.

You can turn off your location data completely by selecting Snapchat under your settings, tap location and select never.

You don’t have to give away your location on Snapchat if you don’t want to. You can stay off the grid by going in ghost mode (in ghost mode you can still see your friends locaitons) or choose to just not allow the feature altogether.

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