Snapchat has introduced a map feature that lets users track other people’s location in real time, raising concerns among safety and privacy advocates.
Snap Maps, launched on Friday, plots users and their snaps onto a map so friends and other Snapchatters can see where they are and what they are doing.
When they first use the feature, users can select whether they want to make their location visible to all of their friends, a select group of connections or to no one at all, which Snapchat refers to as “ghost mode”.
The new feature has raised concerns among safety experts who fear it could be used to stalk or bully others.
The map also incorporates “actionmojis”, a new type of personalized avatar that Snapchat automatically creates by analyzing the user’s location, time of day or speed of travel. So some people will appear in an animated car, for example. The actionmojis appear on the map when a user shares their location and disappear when they’ve been offline for several hours.
Snap Maps is based on technology acquired when Snap bought social mapping startup Zenly in late May. Zenly’s app lets users see where their friends are in real time as well as send them messages.
To access the map, users open the app and pinch to zoom out on the screen. This then displays a map of the local area. Users can change whether or not they are visible to others within the app’s settings.