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Does Snapchat Automatically Update Location on the Snapmap?

Posted by Arch on December 28, 2018

Do you use the Snap Map feature?

While some Snapchat users love sharing their location with their friends, others are more hesitant. Unless you switch to Ghost Mode, the Snap Map feature will show your friends exactly where you are.

This can feel particularly invasive when you’re on the move. How often does Snap Map update your location? Will your friends know where you are at every moment? What if you’re trying to plan a surprise? What if you and a friend have a falling out? These are all questions to keep in mind.

Here is a quick run-down on everything you need to know about maintaining privacy while using the Snap Map function.

Who Gets to See Your Location on the Snap Map?

The first time you open your Snap Map, you have to give the Snapchat app access to your phone’s location, unless you’ve done that already. You can’t explore the Snap Map without giving this permission.

Once you’ve done that, you can choose who gets to see your location.

 Here is a more detailed look at your options:

Ghost Mode

If you select Ghost Mode, nobody will be able to see your location but you. When you’re in this mode, a ghost emoji will appear beside your name. If your friends tap on the emoji, they’ll be able to see how long you’ve been in Ghost Mode, but they still won’t be able to see where you are.

Show Your Location to All Your Friends

If you select “My Friends”, your location will be visible to all of your Snapchat friends. This includes all future friends, so you won’t need to update anything if you have this option selected.

Show Your Location to Certain Friends

You can choose to be selective about who gets to see your location. This is a good compromise between staying invisible and giving out too much information, especially if you follow the Facebook school of friendship and add anyone you know. You can create lists of friends who should get access to your location, or you can give access to everybody except a few particular friends.

If you go with this option, your friends won’t be notified about your decision, so you don’t need to worry about offending anyone or hurting any feelings. However, new friends won’t automatically get added to the list, so you may want to revisit it on occasion.

Editing Who Gets to See Your Location

When it comes to deciding who gets to know where you are, you can change your mind at any time. Here is how you can make your changes:

  1. Open the App
  2. Tap on Search
  3. Open Your Snap Map
  4. Select Settings

Tap on the gear icon on the top right corner of your map.

Now you can enter Ghost Mode. Snapchat will offer you the option to keep Ghost Mode turned on for three hours or for a whole day. If you want to run a quick errand without your friends knowing where you are, this is a convenient option to choose. Keep this in mind for when you’re buying supplies for that surprise party.

You can also keep Ghost Mode turned on indefinitely. The only information your friends will have is the moment when you turned it on.

This is also where you can change the list of friends who have access to your location. Again, you can make changes without your friends knowing anything about it.

Will Your Location Update Automatically?

If you decide against Ghost Mode, what can you expect? Will Snap Map track your every move? Exactly how much information are your friends getting about your location?

Snap Map does automatically make an update when you change your location. However, this only happens when you open the Snapchat app. It isn’t quite Big Brother yet.

If Snapchat isn’t open, your location won’t change. So you don’t necessarily have to go into Ghost Mode if you want to go on a trip without your friends knowing about it. Simply refrain from using Snapchat while you’re there.

On the other hand, the update happens as soon as you open your app, even if you don’t go into Snap Map. That means that just checking new messages will let it update your location. So if you want to lie low, you should either use Ghost Mode or don’t check your new messages.

Our Stories and Your Location

The Our Story feature is Snapchat’s way of building a location-based community.

Simply put, Our Story is a collection of Snaps made by different users. The Snaps all center on a particular event or a particular location.

Our Stories are easy to find. They can give you a fascinating insight into a particular topic from many different points of view. For example, it can be fun to see the Snaps posted at a festival you attended. You get a better idea of how others experienced the same event.

It’s up to you to decide whether you want to add your Snap to Our Story. But if you do, you will reveal your location to everyone who views it. This is true even if you’re in Ghost Mode.

So if you care about keeping your location under wraps, don’t contribute to Our Stories.

But if you decide it’s worth the risk, you can take these steps:

  • Take a Snap
  • Tap on Send
  • Select Our Story

Now your Snap will be connected to your location. All your friends can view it for the following 24 hours. If you change your mind, it’s easy to remove your Snap from Our Story. Simply edit your story to do so.

A Final Word

When Snap Map was first released in 2017, there were serious concerns about privacy and security.

Snapchat acquired Zenly before it developed and released this map. Zenly was a location-based social media app. Hence, Snap Map was based on an app that had already dealt with some of these questions.

But even with Ghost Mode and the absence of background updates, Snap Map is simply too intrusive for some users. When you use the feature without taking precautions, your friends can develop a good idea of your daily routes. This can be a real concern for anyone who has a falling out with a friend or a break-up with a significant other who might have had a temper.

If you prefer more privacy, you might enjoy using the Send/Request Location feature instead of using Snap Map. This lets you directly share your location with a particular friend, with automatic updates for up to eight hours. After eight hours, nobody can see your location.

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