How To Tell If Someone Checked Your Location on Snapchat
Snapchat has become a world-famous social network because of its perfect combination of messaging and social sharing that makes it the ideal site to use both for sharing private moments and posting snaps for all the world to see. Whether you put up quick snaps of your daily life or use the video feature to stream the concerts, events and happenings of your day to your friends and family, Snapchat is a must-install app for communicating. Not everyone knows, however, that the app does more than just photos and videos. Snapchat has been adding features steadily since it first rolled out in 2011, and that constant drip of new features has done a lot to keep the site growing in popularity.
You may not even know that Snapchat has a map utility called Snap Map, which lets you share your own location and also see where your friends are hanging out. Of course, any app that broadcasts your location to the world (or even just to your friends list) raises some privacy concerns, and the discussion of those issues got pretty heated in the early days of Snap Map. However, now Snap Map has been around long enough that most users either turn it off for privacy reasons, or leave it on and don’t worry about who knows what.
One glaring question about Snap Maps is this: can you tell if someone looks at your location on Snap Map? Snap Map has a lot of options and features, but it’s never obvious whether the service lets you check who is or isn’t looking at your location online. Protecting your online identity and privacy is of course important, so in this article I will explain how Snap Map works and how it can impact your privacy, and what you can do to keep prying eyes away.
What Exactly is a Snap Map?
Snap Map is a feature rather stealthily added to the main app that lets people share their location. There are no icons or menu options that get you to Snap Map – if you didn’t know it was there, you’d never find it (unless you’re in the habit of pinching your apps to see if that does anything). To access Snap Map, from the camera section in Snapchat just pinch your fingers together (like you are zooming in). This will open the Snap Map. You’ll see your local area, and icons representing you, your online friends, and various special features or chrome that the Snapchat team has deployed.
If you use Snap Map, your friends can see where you are (with some caveats) and you can see where they are. The caveats: the app only updates your location if you allow it to, and the app only keeps track of your location while you’re on Snapchat and for five or six hours after you’ve closed Snapchat. So if you close Snapchat before you go to sleep tonight, when you wake up in the morning you won’t be showing on your friends’ Snap Maps. In addition, you have a choice for who to share your location with. You can select your entire list of friends, you can select your entire list of friends but exclude certain people, or you can select the specific friends who are the only people to have access to your location. And of course, you can turn on Ghost Mode, which will keep your location private from everyone.
(If you’re worried that Snapchat will keep running in the background and reveal your location for longer than you want, be sure to read our tutorial on how to log out of Snapchat completely. And for more information about how frequently it updates your location, we have a piece on how often Snap Map updates.)
Can you see if someone checked your location on Snapchat?
No. There is no way to tell if someone is looking at you on Snap Maps. Even if they follow your every move, select your Bitmoji and watch every move you make, you are not notified. You are notified if they view a story, of course, as you can always view your list of followers on your story by expanding the list.
As a privacy setting, it’s impossible to see who’s checking your Snap Map location, which is why it’s important to make sure you have the app set so that nobody is getting information about your location who you aren’t comfortable having the information. The most blanket setting is of course Ghost Mode; nobody will know where you are, ever, if you turn that on. Less restrictively, you can choose the group of friends who you want to allow access to your location data, or exclude specific people with whom you aren’t comfortable. Or of course you can throw open the windows and let everybody know. It is up to you to decide what level of privacy you want, and to set your Snapchat settings appropriately.
The 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!)
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. 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 – turn Snapchat on on your burner, leave it running and leave it 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, if 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!
If you don’t have insecure friends or don’t mind people knowing where you are any time you use Snapchat then Snap Maps is all good. If you have children, don’t want to be tracked and mapped every time you take a snap, it isn’t so good. The answer is to either turn on Ghost Mode or not use Snapchat when you are out and about. Otherwise your whereabouts are out there for any friends to see!