Snapchat has ‘missed the mark’ with new location feature.

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Snapchat’s latest feature allows you to trace friends location. Photo Source: The Telegraph.

Orla Traynor, Contributor. 

At the dawn of the digital age, safety was a priority. Parents and teachers encouraged us to use screen names, conceal our location and to never, ever post personal pictures. The web was a valuable source of knowledge for young minds yet in the background loomed the threat of fellow users assuming false identities.

In 2017, such hyper vigilance seems unfounded and ultimately paranoid. For this generation, the internet has expanded our social circles to the extent that almost everyone seems familiar and trustworthy. Even if we haven’t met someone in person, we know that we have twenty five mutual friends, so they’re probably alright, aren’t they?

Snapchat has added a whole new dimension of familiarity to our online presences. Through stories and private snaps we invite our friends and almost-friends to have a ten second glimpse into our daily lives – albeit, a slightly veneered version of our lives – and in turn we get a glimpse of theirs. Since its release in 2011, the relatively simple photo-sharing app has elaborated itself to incorporate a text messaging system, news updates from various media outlets, and of course, the infamous “snap filters” which have become a permanent feature of selfies as we know them. These features were for the most part wildly popular and garnered the app a total of 100 million daily active users by 2015, DMR reports.

Snapchat and its developers are no strangers to controversy; it attracted swathes of criticism following a 2013 security breach which led to millions of users’ information being hacked. Its latest development, however, is the app’s most negatively received feature yet. The Snap Map displays the locations of our snap friends on a real-time map. Snapchat’s website says of the map’s purpose: “See what’s happening, find your friends and get inspired to go on an adventure!” From a purely wholesome standpoint, the map could be a useful feature to gauge which friends who are in your area to make impromptu plans with.

The internet, however, particularly social media, has never proven itself to be as wholesome as we hope it should be. Users have remarked on how startlingly accurate the location function is – users are shown at their exact location, correct to the street and address number. This has obvious negative implications not only for millennials but for children who use the app. Fears of stalking and bullying are rife. There is good news however – the location function is an opt-in feature, therefore users can freely share snaps without fear of unconsciously appearing on the map.

The Snap Map is a huge oversight on the part of the Snapchat developers. While we as a generation are eager to share our opinions, jokes, selfies and daily experiences, we are not willing to put ourselves at risk. While it is usually one of the most innovative apps out there, Snapchat has truly missed the mark with this feature.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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