Going ghost: some users say “no” to SnapMap

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Snapchat’s latest feature as of June 2017, Snap Map, allows users to share pictures, videos and now locations with others across the world, raising concern from users about their safety.

“I honestly am not a fan of it because I have a bunch of random Snapchat friends who are not actually my friends,” said Arielle Iafrate, 21. “[It’s] kind of creepy to think that they can just look at the map and know exactly where I am.”

Iafrate attends the University of Michigan, where she said she has met many people at bars and tailgates that added her on the popular social media app casually before the new feature arrived. Now, Iafrate says the app has taken on a purpose she did not originally download it for.

“I compare it to ‘Find my Friends,’” said Iafrate. “If this were on ‘Find my Friends’ where my actual friends, who I want to see my location were, I’d think it was super cool to have different features. The fact that every single Snapchat contact that I have can see that stuff is weird to me.”

Snapchat updates users’ locations on the map each time they open the app. While they need not worry about background updates as they use their phone with the app closed, according to Snap Inc.’s first quarter 2017 results, users create 3 billion Snapchats every day. This means at least 3 billion location updates each day worldwide between 178 million daily active users, according to Statista.

Michigan State University supply chain major Navya Devrasetty agreed that the app has taken on superfluous features.

“It’s just unnecessary,” said Devrasetty. “I don’t think people should know where I am at all times.”

Devrasetty, however, worried more about her own family seeing her location. She said she considered it an invasion of her privacy by sharing excessive information with relatives and immediate family she has on the app.

“If I’m ever going to a party when I’m supposed to be in East Lansing when I’m not in East Lansing… and I don’t tell my parents about it,” said Devrasetty, “If my brother was to check it and tell them, ‘Wait, why is Navya in Grand Rapids?’ And they ask me questions.”

Not only does the app show where users are, but it also can tell what users are doing by showing their icon listening to music, driving, sleeping, etc., depending on the user’s real life activity at the time.

Iafrate said she believes this app development comes from a desire to stay hip and innovative, comparing it to the popular apps Instagram and Facebook, which have recently adapted the ‘story’ feature that Snapchat has had since 2013.

“I just don’t think [my location] needs to be on Snapchat,” said Iafrate. “That’s not a necessary part of it. I think that the app makers are just trying to make it more cool and involve more things than it actually needs to.”

Users have two options to hide their location from friends: selecting specific friends to share with and utilizing the “ghost mode” feature. With the select friend option, users pick which people on their friends list to share their location with. Ghost Mode takes the user off the map entirely.

Iafrate, a Ghost Mode user, said she does not plan on changing that status anytime soon.

“Snapchat is supposed to be for taking pictures, sending it to your friends, and having them disappear,” she said. “I think they should stick to what they were originally made for.”

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