Snapchat’s launching a new live sharing functionality that will enable users to share their location, in real time, with chosen connections via the Snap Map.
As you can see in these screenshots, the new Live Location option enables you to share your location with a chosen friend, or friends, for 15 minutes, an hour or 8 hours at a time, providing a direct way to enable them to keep tabs on where you’re at. Live location is displayed in your private chat window with your chosen connection, with a timer at the top of the map display counting down the sharing time.
To be clear, Snap users have been able to share their location in Snap Map since the map function was launched back in 2017, which provides a general indicator of where you are while you’re logged in to the app. But this new option is more specific, enabling more granular tracking of a user’s real-time movements in the app.
Which sounds slightly concerning, right?
Well, yes and no.
For one, users will have the option to pause location tracking without sending a notification at any time, so there are privacy considerations built-in. The function is also, logically, switched off by default, while you also can’t share your real-time location with all of your Snap friends at once, only your chosen connections, one-by-one, via each friend’s profile.
The concept is envisioned as a means to keep young people, in particular, safe. Snap has partnered with It’s On Us, a nonprofit which is focused on stopping campus sexual assault, for the launch of the option, and the hope is that by enabling Snap users to share their location in the app as they make their way back home, or back to their dorm, the added security of having chosen friends track their steps will help to improve personal security.
Which could be hugely beneficial, especially given the widespread usage of Snap among younger audiences.
But there are also risks. Domineering partners could force their significant other to share their location in the app, and if you do let the wrong person track your whereabouts, that could, of course, be problematic.
Snap’s hoping to avoid such by giving users control over who can see their activity, but there are potential side effects that could see it used in a negative way.
I guess, these risks are outweighed by the potential benefits. There are also, of course, other apps available that provide tracking options like this, but they would not be as readily accessible as Snap, which many people already have on their devices.
Time will tell if this gets used in a negative way, but conceptually, it should help to provide a means for people to keep tabs on their vulnerable friends, and ensure they get home safe.
Snap users will be able to activate Live Location via friends’ profiles in the app, where you’ll be able to choose how long each specific friend will be able to see your location.