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Does Snapchat Automatically Update Location on the Snap Map?

Posted by Arch on May 22, 2019

Snapchat has become a social network perfect for anyone looking to keep their friends close without the bloat of other social networks. While Facebook encourages you to interact with hundreds of people from your entire life, and Twitter is essentially a public square built into the internet, Snapchat keeps things focused on sharing with those closest to you, whether that’s in one-on-one snaps, groups you share with your friends, or with your entire list of connections through your Stories. Thanks to this smaller group of included viewers, users are more likely to share content they would otherwise keep private, since there’s no risk

Perhaps one of the best examples of sharing information you would otherwise keep private comes in the Snap Map, which allows you to publicly broadcast your location with close friends, your entire list, or just yourself if you’re feeling private. Snap Map is a fascinating feature, showing where your friends are around the world with a specificity that no other social network offers.

If you’re wondering when Snap Map updates your location on your device, you aren’t alone. Snapchat can be a confusing app to use, especially if you’re new to the platform. Let’s take a look at how Snapchat can help you share your location with friends, and when your location updates in the app.

What Exactly is Snap Map?

One of Snapchat’s most controversial features upon its release, Snap Map is a feature added to Snapchat that allows yo  u to share your location with your friends and view where your friends are when they open the app. Pulling down from the camera interface in Snapchat loads a full map of the Earth on your device, with each of your friend’s Bitmojis appearing on the map in their respective locations. The map will also show when friends add to their stories in new or popular locations, and when friends travel far distances by car or plane.

When Snap Map is enabled in your app, it shares your location with either your entire friends list, select friends, or none at all, depending on your choice in the app. The latter option is selected by enabling Ghost Mode, which hides your location for either a specified amount of time, or until you manually disable Ghost Mode.

When Does Snap Map Update?

Snap Map doesn’t update in the background. Unlike Google Maps, which will update live if you share your location, Snapchat only updates your location on the map when the app is actively open on your device. In order for your location to properly update, you’ll need to make sure location services are enabled on your device, then open Snapchat to allow for your location to change.

This happens automatically, but the app isn’t going to show you moving down a road if you open the app and keep it running while in a moving car (one you aren’t driving, hopefully). Instead, the app will update every so often, pinning your Bitmoji to the last location you were seen in.

It’s also worth noting that your Snap Map location will almost always expire overnight, since the app’s location expires after several hours of inactivity. Snapchat doesn’t make it specific when this happens, but in our tests, locations never get older than seven hours before your Bitmoji disappears off the map, waiting for Snapchat to be reopened.

Can I Turn Snap Map Off?

You can’t turn the feature itself off, but you can turn your personal location off by enabling Ghost Mode. As described above, Ghost Mode gives you the option to hide your location for 3 hours, 24 hours, or until you turn off Ghost Mode manually, effectively hiding your location for good. With Ghost Mode enabled, you can still use Snap Map to see the locations of your friends, all while your Bitmoji stands still, silently guarded by the ghost mask they hold in front of their face.

And of course, if you don’t want to use the feature at all, it’s easy to pretend it’s not there just by avoiding the feature altogether.

Who Can See My Location on Snap Map?

Sharing your location may seem like an unsafe thing to do on Snapchat, but thankfully, you can easily change the settings to match exactly what you want in Snapchat. Whether you’re looking to hide your location from everyone but a few friends, or you want to exclude just a few people, it’s easy to customize your settings while still keeping Snap Map enabled for your location.

Alternately, you can rely on manually sending your location to someone if you want to keep your location private with the exception of a few moments each year.

Can You See If Someone Checked Your Location on Snap Map?

The answer to this is a bit more complicated than you might think. Most of the time, the answer is a hard no. Since opening the Snap Map from the camera display shows everyone’s location on your map, it’s tough for Snapchat to actually display who has viewed your location. Just because someone scanned by your Bitmoji on the map doesn’t mean they were actually checking out your place in Snap Map; instead, they might have been looking to see a different person’s location, or no specific person’s location at all. They might have even opened the map by accident when sliding their finger on the screen.

When you open the app, your location will automatically be updated. After about five to six hours of leaving the app unopened, your location will be deleted from the app. It’s possible to check the location of someone on the map through both the Snap Map itself and the profile of the Snap user. If the map doesn’t appear for someone on Snapchat, it means they either have Snap Map disabled, or they haven’t used the app for over six hours.

However, Snapchat does have a feature that displays when someone travels from one location to another, using time and distance to calculate whether they moved by car or plane. This travel feature is viewed independently by selecting the travel card from the bottom of the display, and shows a dotted line from the original place to the new place the person followed.

When you view this, you do not directly alert or notify the person whose trip you’re tracking you’ve done so. However, on the profile display inside Snapchat, if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see that, when traveling, Snapchat treats your movements like a story within the app itself, and that includes being able to see who viewed your specific movement on the map. Clicking on the listing shows exactly who viewed where you went.

So, while you can’t see everyone who saw your location on the Snap Map, you can view who has looked at your recent travels, whether hopping from city to city or flying halfway around the world.

Still, as a privacy setting, we need to reiterate that it’s impossible to see who’s checking your general Snap Map location, which is why it’s important to make sure you have the app set on the privacy settings that make you feel most comfortable. If there’s someone you don’t want seeing your location, you should exclude that person from the list. Likewise, if there’s only a small group of people you wish to allow access to your location, it’s easy to select just a few names from your friends list. And of course, if you want no one to access your location, Ghost Mode makes it easy to hide your location from everyone on Snapchat, either for a limited time or until you turn off the setting.

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.

3 thoughts on “Does Snapchat Automatically Update Location on the Snap Map?”

Tati says:
Does anyone else have an issue where it will show that someone is on like 5m who or whatever but there location is still not updated? It shows the last place they’ve been at? Or if you know they logged on but snap map showing they’ve been on like 5 hr ago?
Reply
DEMI says:
I noticed today that my snap map isn’t showing the location of my family and friends. Is this related to the new update? Wierd.
Reply
Ola says:
Hi, I’ve got a question.
My friend opened snaps from me but his location didn’t update. Why ?
Reply
4thelulz says:
Same question as above
Reply
SnapJunkie says:
I’ve noticed this as well. I think if they open it as a notification and just respond to your snap and not really open the app, it doesn’t update location. But I couldn’t find any confirmation of this other than this.

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