Looking Out For Friends on the Snap Map

TLL

At Snap, we help friends stay connected no matter where they are, and we want to give our community even more tools to safely explore the world around them. So today, we are introducing a new safety feature for the Snap Map that will help Snapchatters look out for one another while they are on the go, whether they are on their way to meet up, or on their way home at night. 

Since 2017, Snapchatters have been able to opt in to share their location with their friends on the Snap Map, but to date the app needed to be open for their location to be updated. This new tool will give Snapchatters the option to share their real-time location with a close friend even while their app is closed. With this new buddy system, Snapchatters can throw their phone in their pocket and head out the door, feeling confident that the people they trust most are looking out for them while they're on the move.

Location sharing on the Snap Map has always been, and will continue to be, off by default, meaning that Snapchatters have to proactively opt in to share where they are. Importantly, Snapchatters can only ever share their whereabouts with their existing Snapchat friends – there is no option to broadcast their location to the wider Snapchat community. 

As a platform built for communicating with close friends, we know that location sharing can be an easy and impactful way for young people to stay connected and safe. In fact, according to feedback from our community, we know that Snapchatters feel even more connected to their friends when they see them on Snap Map, and that they are motivated to share their location with friends because they think it’s a safe and fun way to stay connected. 

We’ve built this new tool to offer Snapchatters a buddy system, and we’ve included several safety elements from the start, including:

  • A fast and clear way to activate, so Snapchatters can share their real-time location in an instant if they ever feel unsafe.

  • Limited time sharing & notification-free pausing so Snapchatters can easily turn this off when they’ve reached their destination. Plus, this minimizes any undue pressure to constantly share. 

  • Required two-way friendship meaning that only those who have mutually added each other as friends on Snapchat can share their location, keeping in line with our existing Snap Map policies. 

  • A safety notice that pops up when Snapchatters use the feature for the first time, ensuring our community knows that this is meant to be used only with close friends and family.

  • Ultra clear design so Snapchatters always understand their setting selections and who can see their location.

We are all adjusting to new ways of being out and about in the world -- especially on college campuses, where Snapchat is widely used. Many students have gone back to campus to be with their friends despite remote or hybrid learning, but with schools expecting less activity on the grounds, there may be gaps in normal security and safeguards. That's why we are launching this new tool as part of a partnership with It’s On Us, a national non-profit dedicated to combating campus sexual assault through campus awareness and prevention education programs. Starting today, a new PSA from It’s On Us will debut in our app, encouraging our community to look out for one another. 

We know many parents may have questions about how the Map works, who can see Snapchatters’ locations (if they choose to share them), and the policies and tools we have in place. So, we wanted to share more on the key safety and privacy features of the Snap Map:

  • Location Sharing is OFF by Default and Only for Friends: For all Snapchatters, location-sharing is off by default and completely optional. Snapchatters can update their location sharing preferences at any time by tapping the settings gear at the top of the Snap Map. There, they can hand select which existing friends can see their location, or hide themselves completely with ‘Ghost Mode.’ Snapchatters who do decide to share their location on the Map will only be visible to those they have selected -- we don’t give anyone the option to share their location publicly with people they have not proactively and mutually added as a friend. 

  • Education & Reminders: Snapchatters are taken through a tutorial when they use Snap Map for the first time. Here, they can learn how to opt-in for location sharing, how to select friends to share with, and how to update settings at any time. Snapchatters who choose to share their location with their friends receive periodic reminders asking them to confirm that they are still comfortable with their settings and if they are not, they can easily switch off location sharing without prompting other users.

  • Additional Privacy Safeguards: Only content that is proactively submitted to the Snap Map appears on it; Snaps between friends remain private. For Snapchatters who maintain our default privacy setting, content shown on the Map is automatically anonymized, so anyone looking at the Map cannot see the name, contact information, or exact location of the person who shared. We also protect sensitive businesses and locations on the Map.

We know that mobile location sharing is sensitive and needs to be used with caution, but we believe that with the right safeguards in place, it can be an impactful way for friends to not only stay connected, but also to help keep each other safe. We encourage you to visit our support page here for more information.