Snapchat: How Much is Too Much?
Thursday, August 17, 2017 Paige Finney Categories: Social Media
By Paige Finney, PR Intern
With Snapchat’s new location feature, has social media sharing gone too far?
One of the most popular real-time social media platforms, Snapchat now allows users to see their friends’ exact locations. With simply the swipe of two fingers a user can see where each one of his or her friends is located at any given time using the “Snap Map.”
Snapchat now records one’s location every time an individual opens the app. It then displays the user’s location on a map using his or her Bitmoji, essentially a self-designed cartoon of oneself. The map is so accurate it shows the exact street a friend is on at that moment.
The app also uses altitude and speed to display when friends are traveling by car or plane, at which point the user’s Bitmoji appears in a car or plane on the map. Snapchat can even track time and location frequency to determine when individuals are sleeping. A user’s Bitmoji then appears on the Snap Map asleep in an armchair to show friends when they are sleeping and even worse—where.
Although this is an opt-in feature, the Snap Map’s explanation on its location sharing remains vague. Once users update their Snapchat, they are simply required to hit “next” three times to allow their Snapchat friends total access to their location at all times. Many users are allowing this without fully understanding what they are agreeing to. When apps update, individuals typically don’t read through all the new features; they want to click through it as fast as possible and discover it all themselves. Without realizing, many users are clicking past the brief information and are agreeing to share their location and activities with anyone they have friended on Snapchat.
Sure, this could be a beneficial feature if you are worried about a friend making it home after a night out or if you are a frequent “social media stalker” like the average young Millennial. However, do we really want ALL of our Snapchat friends to know where we live, work and go on a daily basis? Let’s be honest, we all have friends on our social media accounts that we don’t really know. How do you feel about that one person you met one time always being able to see your location?
But it’s not all bad. The map also features events and breaking news from around the world and allows users to add personal content to these events. Events include concerts, national conventions, sporting events and more. The stories allow users to experience an event or landmark in Europe while sitting in their living room in the United States. Another addition is a heat map feature that shows where a lot of snap activity shared to “our story” is located, suggesting some type of local event or popular location. Users are then able to see user-generated content from these places simply by clicking on the heat map icon.
Snapchat’s latest feature comes after a variety of location-sharing services on social media, including Facebook’s check-in feature that allows users to check in at restaurants or cities around the world and its new location-sharing feature that allows one to share their current location with friends via Messenger.
Complaints about Facebook’s location feature focus on telling individuals when one is not home, allowing an opportunity for break-ins or other potential danger. The issue with Snapchat’s new feature, however, is that it is automatic. With Facebook, users decide whether to share their locations every time they “check in.” With Snapchat, it becomes much easier to forget that one’s location is being shared, as each time an individual uses the app—whether on the Snap Map feature or not—the app tracks one’s location.
This new addition to keep Snapchat alive with the growing competition from Instagram and Facebook may help the app stay afloat a little longer, but has it gone too far? Is it sharing too much?
As a Millennial, I enjoy my occasional social media stalk, but Snapchat’s Snap Map has gone too far. I think the events feature that allows individuals to see snaps from various events around the world is great and allows for experiential opportunities that were unavailable before this feature. I even think knowing the general area of where my friends are located is interesting. However, individuals being able to see my exact location 24/7, down to the house I live in or the building where I work, truly is too much.