It’s one thing to use social media to keep up with friends, but what if someone you don’t know can keep up with you (and your exact location) too?
SnapChat: Innocent Fun or A Stalker’s Paradise?
With more than 166 Million daily users globally, no one can deny the popularity of SnapChat. Originally intended as a platform for covert messaging, SnapChat was commonly associated with, “Sexting” or the act of sending nude photos back and forth. Users could easily share compromising photos with the confidence that they would be automatically removed after a certain period of time. The platform quickly grew from its small niche into a social media giant among younger users.
The app allows users to send photos with a time limit to view them. This makes it easier for users to send photos they normally wouldn’t send via regular text or facebook message. The app originally did not allow screenshots, but now it does. SnapChat later added the Snap Maps feature, which allowed users to associate a location with the photos they took. That’s where the story below comes in. Many people are unaware of the potential dangers of Snap Map, and we’d like to use this real-life story as a cautionary illustration.
Terrifying True Story
While eating dinner at a local restaurant, I overheard a very tense conversation between two waitresses about something scary that had happened. One of the bartenders was an attractive young woman. She had been housesitting for a guy who was out of the country on vacation. She was using Snapchat to share photos with friends to pass the time the night before. (Before we proceed, it’s worth mentioning this waitress said she DID NOT use Snap Map or have it enabled on her Snapchat account).
The homeowner came home a day early (while the waitress was still at work) to find three grown men were sitting on his couch. They were waiting for the waitress to return from work later that night. The owner thought these men were friends who were invited by the waitress so he asked them to leave. The owner called the waitress at work, understandably upset. That’s when he found out that these men followed the girl’s Snap Map to her location! She had been posting pictures and they broke into his house to wait for the girl to return home from work that night.
Snapchat Maps And The Dangers of Snapmap
- This pretty young waitress did not know the three men who showed up and broke into the house she was watching! She was totally unaware that a small setting on her smartphone had left her vulnerable.
- She did not invite these men to come to visit her. All they had to do was trace her location through the tools provided in SnapChat.
- These men (three of them) showed up late at night to wait for her. Were they there to talk? Probably not…
Internet privacy is often thrown aside in favor of the conveniences and fun our phones, tablets, and computers can provide. The sad part is, many do not consider the darker, dangerous side of these technologies until it’s too late. It’s not that technology is inherently evil, it’s just a matter of doing your research and using technology responsibly. Be sure to double-check the Terms of Service and the Privacy Settings on all of your social media apps and accounts.