Snap Map, a new Snapchat feature released last week, has become a pain for users, as it allows their locations to be seen by other users almost all of the time. Snapchat’s new feature uses the location to look at Snapchat Stories posted by users. The feature, however, has been at the center of controversy since it was released.

Snapchat Snap Map
KiNG_PEEWEE / Pixabay

Snap Map is useful but intrudes on users’ privacy

While the feature is useful (you can always keep your friends and family updated on where you have been and when), the problem is that even a complete stranger can track your location. A large number of groups, including child advocates and security experts, claim that it intrudes on users’ privacy, and they warn users to turn off the feature before they land in serious trouble.

The first and foremost concern of security experts is that users should be fully informed on how the feature works and how much information it reveals about a user’s location when it’s enabled. This is due to the fact that the app reveals a user’s location even when they open the app and not just when they post a photograph or video to Stories.

In a statement, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said, “It’s worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists. With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user. This highlights why it’s vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks.”

How can you turn it off?

To help users, law enforcement agencies have issued guidelines on how the feature can be used safely. In a Facebook post, state troopers in Massachusetts advised parents with young Snapchat users to take precautions while using the Snap Map feature, notes IB Times.

Many experts advise users to turn the feature off. To do so, first open the Snapchat app and then the Snap Map. On the top right-hand corner of the map, there is a gear icon that offers three options for how users can appear to other Snapchat users. The options are Ghost Mode,” “My Friends” and “Select Friends.”

The first option allows you to keep your location hidden from everyone, while the second allows your friends to see your current location. The last option allows you to choose a group of people or friends with whom you wish to share your location.

Despite the privacy concerns, the app has gained huge popularity among youngsters, as the update makes it possible for users to see any user’s exact area, town, street and even house in real-time.

“We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world!…See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!” Snapchat says.

On Monday, Snap (Snapchat’s parent company) shares closed down 1.43% at $17.29. Year to date, the stock is down almost 30%.