Snapchat is one of the world’s best social platforms, with a well-tuned mix of messaging and general social sharing that makes it easy to share private moments or post a snippet of your life for all to see. From quick snaps of the world around you to using the video feature to share events, concerts, and daily happenings in your life with friends and family, Snapchat is a must-have communication app in 2019.
That said, the app isn’t just about photos and videos. Over the years, the app has become much more complex, adding features outside the usual fare when you think about Snapchat. Even video was a new addition to the application at one point, which added a brand-new way to share the world around you. Users can even add music to their snaps and stories.
From editing long videos into clips to placing phone and video calls through the app, Snapchat has more features than it ever has before, and that can make it a real challenge to justify using the application just for standard photo sharing.
There might even be features you’re unfamiliar with, like Snap Map — the utility that allows you to share your own location and see where your friends are.
When Snap Maps first came out, some users got pretty upset about the perceived violation of their privacy, but Snapchat soon cured those concerns by building some powerful protection into Snap Map. Users can either use Snap Map with privacy settings turned on or can completely bypass the feature and not permit it to run at all.
One of the biggest questions surrounding this matter, of course, is whether you can see when someone looks at your location on Snap Map. There are plenty of options within Snap Map itself, but it never becomes obvious whether or not the service allows you to easily check who is or is not looking at your location online.
As always, protecting yourself and your identity online is as important as it can be in 2018, so let’s take a look at how to protect your identity with Snap Map.
What Exactly is a Snap Map?
One of Snapchat’s most controversial features upon its release, Snap Map is a feature that allows you to share your location with your friends and view where your friends are when they open the app.
When Snap Map is enabled in your app, you can choose from one of four privacy settings:
- Ghost Mode – Only you can see your Snap Map bitmoji no matter where you go; you can set this mode to expire after a certain amount of time.
- My Friends – Straightforward enough, the people who you have declared as your friends can see your movements with this setting.
- My Friends, Except… – This setting allows your entire friends list, minus those troublesome individuals who you don’t want to invite to your Snap Map party.
These options make it easy to hide your location at all times or decide who can see your location on their Snap Map.
One thing that should be noted: no matter what your privacy settings are on Snap Map, if you create a Story, Snapchat will preserve any Snaps you add to the Story, and the location of your Snaps will be visible to readers of those posts.
Does Snapchat Tell You When Someone Checks Your Location?
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. To do this, Snapchat uses 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, which shows a dotted line from the original place to the new place the person traveled to.
When you view this, you do not directly alert or notify the person whose trip you’re tracking. 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. This 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. If you’re really concerned about your privacy, this is the option for you.
In any case, if your one of the people worried about how Snap Maps might impact your privacy, there are ways to avoid this feature.
Problems Snap Map Can Cause
Snap Map can cause problems, especially with people who are touchy or sensitive.
For example, say you and your friends all share your locations on Snap Map. Can you see the possibility of this text stream happening?
Jake: ‘Jess, I see you, James, Jon, and Jacob are all in the coffee shop? Why wasn’t I invited?’
Jess: ‘It was a spur of the moment thing, we met at the book store and decided to hang out.’
Jake: ‘Thanks for inviting me! I thought we were friends!’
Jess: ‘Nothing personal, you can come down if you want.’
Jake: ‘No thanks, if you wanted me there you would have invited me.’
Sure, Jake is needy and insecure and this could have happened anywhere at any time even without Snap Map. But the Snap Map is what gave Jake the information that triggered his sad self. We all have a Jake in our life (and now you know why you can exclude some people on your Snap Map tracking).
This is probably the most likely problem to occur in the real world with Snap Maps. It’s easy enough to block your stalker or your ex from your location, but if you have friends who will go off the deep end because they didn’t get invited to the coffee shop but James did, then Snap Map opens the door to a lot of problems.
It’s about those little lies we tell each other in social situations. If you sneak off to the game without inviting your buddies or have a quick drink after work without your best friend, the secret could potentially be out without you even knowing. (So don’t forget to use Ghost Mode!)
If you want to avoid ending up in a situation like this, be sure to take the steps necessary to hide your location and protect your privacy when using Snapchat.
Being Sneaky on Snap Map
Here’s a technique that you can use to have your Snap Map location appear to be on, but not to give away your actual location. This is great if you want to retain your privacy without looking like you’re hiding something.
It’s easy to forget that Snapchat (or any other geo-tracking app) doesn’t actually know where you are. It knows where your phone is. This may be a difficult concept for the modern phone-glued-to-the-hand generation to comprehend, but it’s possible to go somewhere without taking your phone.
Turn Snapchat on, send a snap of yourself vegging on the couch with the caption “I think this is where I’ll be for the next eight hours,” put the phone down, head to the club for some fun, and nobody will be the wiser.
Sometimes you really don’t want to leave your phone behind, however. (How are you going to call an Uber to get back home from the club without it?)
Another possibility is to use a burner phone – open up Snapchat on your burner and leave it running at home while you and your “real” phone head out to whatever nefarious rendezvous you want to hide from Mom and your friends list. Just don’t open Snapchat on your real phone while you’re out, or your cover is blown!
If you don’t have a burner phone, but do have a PC, then you can install one of the many Android emulators on your PC and have that as your Snapchat home base.
It’ll show you safe and sound at home all night long as long as you leave the emulator running with Snapchat open. Check out this TechJunkie article on the best Android emulators for Windows 10 to get started.
Another way to fool Snap Map is to play games with your phone’s location using software. Read our pieces on how to fool Snapchat’s location filters and how to spoof your location in Snapchat to get more information on that!
Any of these options is perfect if you want to circumvent the Snap Map location feature without having to enable Ghost Mode.
Unfortunately, if privacy is a priority for you, there is no way to know if someone checks your location via the controversial Snap Map feature. If you want to protect your location, your options are to either enable Ghost Mode, stop using Snapchat, or leave your phone at home while you’re out and about.
If you don’t have insecure friends or don’t mind people knowing where you are any time you use Snapchat, then Snap Maps can be a fun feature that enhances Snapchat’s social sharing abilities.
On the other hand, if you have children, don’t want to be tracked and mapped every time you take a snap, it might not be so great.
If this sounds like you, you should be sure to try out one of the methods talked about in this article to hide or spoof your location when using Snapchat. Otherwise, your whereabouts are out there for any friends to see!
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