Snapchat update raises security concerns

Snapchat's most recent update allows users to share their location with friends and view Snap Stories from across the globe.

On Tuesday, Snapchat released an update allowing users to share their location with friends.

With the pinch of a finger, those who choose to share their location will be visible and can see other friends who also share their locations on the map.

With this new update, sharing one’s location is taken with caution.

The update allows users to go in ghost mode, where no one can see their location, or to select a specific Snapchat user to view their location on the map. The update also allows users to specify who sees their locations.

Tiffany Schoenike, National Cyber Security Alliance director of campaigns and initiatives, said the most important thing to note is the update can share someone’s location by default. After updating, one has to select ghost mode to switch it on, she said.

"It's a big concern 'cause not a lot of people keep up with the updates and don’t know they might be sharing their location," Schoenike said.

One danger of any app or social media platform is that people don’t always know what they are sharing and with whom they are sharing it, Schoenike said. Companies or people with malicious intent can benefit from a user sharing their location by gathering how long that user spends at a location to market to them or discover where they live.

After having the app for almost a year, biology senior Himani Singh said she almost deleted it after the update. Initially, she did not know how to access the map or hide her location.

As a substitute teacher, Singh said she sees high school and middle school students constantly on Snapchat. She said it concerns her that the students may be sharing their locations.

Civil engineering junior Roberto Rodriguez said the new update doesn’t bother him, because people can hide their location. He doesn’t turn on his GPS location on his phone, so no one can see his location, regardless of whether he turns ghost mode on, he said.

“I don’t like people knowing where I’m at,” Rodriguez said. “Because it ended up tracking where my work and home was, and I was like, ‘How does Google know this?’ So I stopped."

He said the new update's only downside was the potential for stalkers to access someone’s location. On the upside, seeing where friends are can lead to an impromptu hangout.

Rodriguez said those who want to use the maps should only add people they know before sharing their location for others to see.

Singh said she would advise users to not share their locations, because oversharing can make things worse. She never adds anyone she doesn’t know to avoid unwanted contact, she said.

“It’s a scary world out there,” Singh said.

At the end of the day, apps have some safety standards in place, Schoenike said. Before downloading, users should glance over the privacy policy and decide what to share with others, she said.


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