On Wednesday, 6/21, Snap Chat rolled out a new feature called Snap Map, and it has some parents nervous.
Snap Map allows people on your friend list to see your photos superimposed over a map, which allows them to know your location, and possibly where you live, go to school, etc. Considering that many Snap Chat users are pretty young, some parents are understandably concerned about predators and stalkers being able to use the app to track their children.
How is Snap Map meant to be used?
Snap Chat has described Snap Map as “a new way to explore the world,” and with the popularity of real-world interactive media like Pokemon Go, it makes sense that other media companies would want to explore new formats. People are curious about how other people live, and what things are like in other locations, which is easy to see in the popular hobby of using Google Street View to explore remote locations. The company also describes Snap Map as an easy way to meet up with friends in a crowded location, and the trend of apps that encourage more activity and face-to-face interaction can’t be all bad. Facebook’s Live Location feature (available thorough Messenger) will likely be competing with Snap Map.
Snap Map could also help people see where an event (like a concert or festival) is happening by showing a “heat map”—a location where a lot of people are Snapping.
What privacy policies are in place?
The company stresses that the Snap Map feature does not activate unless the user goes into the settings and turns it on, and that even then, only people on the user’s friend list has access to their location. Users can also adjust their own privacy settings to further limit who sees their location. However, after the update, a tutorial will play when the app is opened to ask if you want to turn on the new feature. Someone pushing buttons without reading the details might accidentally broadcast their location without realizing it. The app notifies your friends of your location every time you open the app—not just when you send a Snap—so it’s like walking around with a bug in your pocket.
What can you do?
While this new feature has its perks, you may want to check in with your kids and have them check their settings just to be safe. Like all social media, it is worth your time to do a little research and regularly update your privacy settings, exercising reasonable caution, so that you aren’t giving away more than you thought.
We’ve all done it at least once. You show up to your hotel and you’re excited about dropping off your stuff and hitting the town to discover all the cool stuff your vacation location has to offer. You notice that there aren’t a lot of attractions around your hotel, and then you ask the desk where to go and they suggest a long cab ride to another part of the city. It’s discouraging and long cab or Uber rides tend to put a damper on your evening. Or maybe you put a lot of time into figuring out the best part of the city before you booked, but it turns out you’re hitting only the tourist locations and none of the local flavor is coming through. CityHeat is ready to make finding the most visited places in a city (by visitors or locals) incredibly easy by showing you heat maps of the most popular locations.
What’s a heatmap?
Heatmaps are a great way to visualize data about locations or places in use. In this case you simply select the city you are planning to visit and in a matter of seconds you will have a regular looking Google Map with colors overlayed showing you the “heat” or commonality of people visiting locations across the city. The darker the red the more visited the location, with the color scale going from green to deep red. Here’s an example from Honolulu:
Picking a hotel in or near one of those bright red areas helps you ensure you’re going to be in the heart of action – if that’s what you’re trying to achieve. Of course you can use it for the opposite purpose and find hotels to stay at that are far away from the deepest reds and the hustle and bustle of inner-metro areas. You can zoom in on the maps to get a closer inspection of an individual neighborhood or zoom out to see who whole metropolitan region.
After you select the city you can enter what you’re interested in, giving you detailed break down of attractions that might interest you and their locations in the heatmap. Plus, it even shows you the Google review rating of the locations in your hotspots.
Another handy feature is the ability to mouse over “Visitor” or “Local” and the map will change to show you the differences between where the locals like to be and where the visitors tend to assemble. Again, depending on the goals of your trip you can use this feature to help plan out the sights and experiences that will be best for you. At the very least it’s fun tool just to see where people like to congregate in your own city!