GUIDE

How to Disable Snapchat’s Map Tracking Feature

On 21 June, the picture and video sharing platform Snapchat released a statement announcing Snap Maps. The new feature gives users “a whole new way to explore the world,” allowing you to view the exact location of your friends and information about what they are doing, such as travelling or sleeping, in the form of handy ‘actionmojis.’

Considering the platform’s huge popularity with younger users, it’s perhaps not surprising that the feature has been met with criticism from some groups. They fear it may be used to stalk or bully individuals. One of those most publicly shocked was Loose Women’s Nadia Sawahla, who was incensed by the “creepy” new Snap Maps feature.

The issue for many parents is that their children, and likely a large number of their friends, use the social platform. So, what exactly can Snapchat users do to protect their privacy?

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Can’t I just block my location?

The first thing to note is that the Snap Maps feature requires your phones GPS to be enabled in order to work. In addition to this, the Snapchat safety centre claims that “location sharing is off by default.”

Be careful, though. Contrary to Snapchat’s claim that “you decide if you want to share your location with your friends or simply keep it to yourself,” if users post snaps to the Our Story feature, the post may appear publicly on the map without a prompt from the application that this is about to happen.

How to Enable Ghost Mode in Snapchat

Another option is to enable the Snapchat’s ‘ghost mode’ feature. This makes your location invisible to all Snapchat users and is a more fool-proof way to remain hidden. Below we outline the steps that you should take to enable ghost mode on your (or your child’s) device.
Step 1 – Open Snapchat and go to the camera screen.

When on this screen, pinch your fingers together (as if you were zooming in on an image) to activate the Snap Maps feature.

Step 2 – When in the Snap Maps screen, tap the settings icon (the cog) in the top right corner of the screen.

snap maps map screen

Step 3 – Next, tap ‘Ghost Mode’ to enable it.

snapchat settings screen

This feature can also be used to protect users from online harassment or bullying. You can use the ‘select friends’ feature, to review the list of contacts, and block specific people from being able to see your current location and activities.

snapchat friends list screen

Users should be aware that if they have an actionmoji, this will be updated based on data that your device automatically sends to Snapchat. For example, the avatar will display a car if you’re travelling, or sleep if snapchat detects that is what you’re is doing. In this way, friends will be able to see what you are doing even without you posting any snaps!

On its website, Snapchat acknowledges the safety issues surrounding the feature, admitting that “there are risks to broadcasting personal information like location to strangers.” To be able to view location, however, both users must be friends. This does make it easier to make sure only those you want to see your location can do so.

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Finally, remember that Snapchat also has a feature for reporting inappropriate content. Just hold your finger on the screen over the snap in question and click the white flag that appears.

snapchat report an issue screen

If you’re concerned about any aspect of your or your children’s online safety when using the application, Snapchat maintains a very comprehensive safety centre on its website.

If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your family anonymous and secure when surfing the web, why not start with our beginners guide to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)?

Image Credit: Wachiwit/Shutterstock.com


Rob McAllister

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