This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working at an ad agency and part of this experience landed me at Snapchat headquarters in Venice, California last week during what seems to be a minimal media storm surrounding their company. While everyone from Slate to Huffington Post has been commenting on the seemingly invasive characteristics of Snapchat’s latest product, the Snapchat Map, I was interested in hearing what the company’s representatives had to say about what their plans were for the map and how we (the young interns from all over the country) were responding to it.
If you haven’t heard of the Snapchat Map, Snapchat’s latest update allows users to seemingly “zoom” out of their recent snaps into a map of their current location to see the location of their Snapchat friends. What is receiving the most attention is how accurate this map really is. You can virtually zoom in to see which house your friend took a Snap inside of. For young adults who are Snapchat friends with people that they are not necessarily that close to, this seems a bit too intimate for comfort. This leaves users wondering if Snapchat assumed that its users only add friends who they are close friends with in real life, which is not always the case.
Snapchat maintained that their goal was to further connect users in a new and fun way, but they did acknowledge safety concerns and reminded us that there is the ability to either turn off the feature completely or the option for users to go into “ghost mode” where you can see where others are, but they cannot see where you are. One of the more interesting things Snapchat officials told us was that they made sure that prior to the launch, “public/celebrity” accounts were made aware of the change so that, for example, all of Steph Curry’s Snapchat followers wouldn’t all of a sudden be able to see where he was.
While I am a rising fourth year media studies major at UVA and a social media junkie, I was certainly in the same camp as most of America when it comes to this feature, including rising third year Ryan Goodman.
Goodman explained, “I’m not really a fan of it, I would rather not have people that I’m just acquaintances with knowing my location, and I doubt they would want me to know also. Other than that it’s a pretty cool feature.”
Now Snapchat is left to decide, should they take the feature away all together, or should they modify it until users seem more comfortable with the idea of their Snap friends knowing their location?