The latest news hitting the mobile technology world comes in the form of the new Snapchat Map feature, or “Snap Map”, which launched at the end of July. No doubt you will have heard all the press surrounding the update in the news recently – but what does it all mean?
The main feature of the Snap Map allows users to “opt-in” to see the location of their friends (using a character called a ‘Bitmoji’) and search for snap ‘hotspots’ on the map. The map is detailed and accurate enough to see individual roads and streets, and even shows cartoons of landmarks in the nearby area for clarity! See our snapshots below. If there are events on, the Snap Map will create a bubble for the event and users can post their own snapchats to the event story for everyone to view. This is also the same for locations – users can choose to add their snapchat to a ‘London’ story or a ‘Leeds’ story should they want to, so that anyone who wishes to view that location or event’s story can do so. The hotspots demonstrate if a lot of public snapchats are occuring in one place, and groups them all together for users to see – the colours go through the rainbow to indicate the number of snaps being posted: white is the “hottest”, working backwards through red, orange, yellow, green, blue and finally purple for the least interaction. For example, if a flash mob broke out in Trafalgar Square in London and lots of people started taking photos and videos, and uploading them to a London location, Snapchat would recognise a hub of activity in that location and create a public hotspot on the Snap Map!
The update seems a fantastic and creative new way to share what’s happening at events and certain locations – it ensures we will never miss a moment, and demonstrates the never ending rise of social media – but could too much exposure be a bad thing? The app’s update and location-sharing has attracted a lot of criticism since its release. As Snapchat is very popular with children, teenagers and young adults, many people think the location sharing could be dangerous and has lead to worldwide safety concerns. Snapchat has backed this feature up by saying how the exact location sharing is necessary for friends to meet in crowded places or events, and that the location sharing is simply optional – users can opt out of location sharing and can use “ghost mode” to see other public users and hotspots, but keep themselves hidden. It is also worth noting that users also cannot interact with another user that isn’t their friend on Snapchat, but in the age of ‘catfishing’ we now know how easy it is to pretend to be someone else on social media. Many people believe that even allowing the temptation to share such private information could lead to negativity, with many online debates ensuing as people battle out their opinions.
What do you think – should parents and guardians be concerned over the new update, or is the optional feature merely a fun new way to interact with friends?