Location, Location, Location

13 June 2018

Snapchat’s map feature has been called “creepy” and “dangerous” by the media since its inception last year. The feature enables users to track their friends’ locations at any time, across the globe.

This adds to a myriad of settings on the app which allow users to share their location with others. The very act of sharing a Snapchat can give away your whereabouts, with or without the aid of the app’s added location features such as city “filters” or ‘stories”.  

An open Snapchat account, which allows anyone to follow a user, poses an obvious risk. Kim Kardashian has spoken about how she believes that the men who raided her hotel in Paris may have established that she was alone in the room by watching her Snapchat feed.

It’s not only Snapchat that is giving its users a platform to share locations. Instagram and Facebook also allow many to give away more than they necessarily mean or want to.

Instagram offers up the potential to “tag” a location to every image and Facebook suggests to users, even after they have posted an image, possible locations to geo-tag it to. Instagram stories, similar to Snapchat’s, can also provide a rolling image feed of locations and places-tagged to a user’s followers. Additionally, Facebook and Instagram allow for their users to post ‘live’ streams on their platforms; an unedited feed that is posted in real-time by a user.

That being said, there are some simple steps to take to keep your locations private on Snapchat and other social media platforms:

  1. Ensure Snapchat maps has ‘ghost mode’ enabled, turning off the ability for others to track you;Make sure your social media profiles are private. If that’s not possible think about what you’re posting. Be smart and don’t give away private and confidential information. You wouldn’t tell a stranger your exact address and the same principal should be applied when it comes to your social media use;
  2. Think about when you are posting. If you want to share your location, it may be prudent in some circumstances to post about it after you have been there rather than simultaneously or ‘live’;
  3. Check periodically that you actually know all your friends and followers on your social media platforms.

In an age where social media is enticing us to divulge ever more information about our private lives, being aware of who can locate you at any given time becomes all the more important.

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About the Author

Hope Watson

Senior Analyst, Intelligence

Hope is a skilled researcher and analyst who employs open source investigative methods to assist clients in identifying and mitigating reputational and privacy threats.

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