The new Snap Map has some pretty great features. Wanna see what some random person in Nairobi is up to? Go for it.
But there's a downside: it's way easy to stalk you while you're using Snapchat. Check out this screengrab showing myself with a coworker using the GoMN account.
It shows us, at our office, within feet of where our desks actually are.
If you've got certain settings turned on, your friends can see this exact same thing whenever you use the app.
How do I turn it off?
Snapchat asks you about this the first time you open the map, but it's easy to forget about later.
You've got three options:
– My friends: Meaning all of the people you're mutual friends with can see your exact location from anytime you used Snapchat.
– Select friends: You get to pick which friends are allowed to see your exact location.
– Ghost mode: Nobody sees your location, at all. (If you're worried about being tracked, this is obviously the most safe.)
To pick your setting you can select the settings gear at the top right of the Snap Map; or swipe down from your camera, go to the settings gear at the top right, then scroll down to "See My Location" under the "Who Can ..." section.
If you choose to share your location know that it shows up whenever you use Snapchat, even if you don't open the Snap Map specifically, as The Verge reports.
If you're sharing your location on the Snap Map and Snapchat isn't open, it'll show your friends the last location you opened the app, and how long ago that was.
Controlling what apps can access
"It’s important for users to keep an eye on what permissions an app is requesting and asking themselves why those permissions are being requested," Twin Cities tech worker Christopher Burg told GoMN in an email.
Burg is a member of the local group CryptoParty MN. They meet regularly to talk about communication and computer security.
Snapchat for example asks for your permission to access your phone's precise location, read your contacts, record audio and video, and more. Some make sense – Snapchat takes photos, so of course it would ask for camera access.
But if you download an app that asks for something like location services, and it's not clear why it would need that, be careful, he said.
Burg also pointed out you can revoke or allow specific permissions through your phone's settings.
"So a Snapchat user could disable location services permissions," he said. But that could prevent the app from functioning altogether, since some permissions are required.
People are worried about Snap Map
The precise location, coupled with the unclear explanation of what exactly it means in the app, is why you're now seeing privacy warnings.
Snapchat in statements has said users' safety "is very important to us." They also point out the feature is restricted to mutual friends (meaning you both follow each other).