Snap Map – A Step Too Far?

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Some social media updates come and go without a hello and a goodbye. Simple algorithm changes or font additions… It’s just pointless tinkering. However, Snapchat’s new update is possibly one of the biggest updates ever with Snap Map. The update allows you to see where all your friends are, in real time, on a map. The feature is designed to help users find nearby friends and users so they can hang out and ‘get inspired to go on an adventure’. Snapchat brought out a video showing how to use it, below…

Questions have been raised regarding privacy… Snapchat has been the social network for the younger generation for some time now. 

It includes features like ghost mode, which allows users to choose for their profile not to be shown, but they can still scan the map freely. It’s essentially just a stalking tool that will cause lots of arguments as opposed to help friendships blossom/link people together. It can be turned off but providing this option obviously still makes it a concern for some people. I expect the feature to be criticised in the near future, then to be tweaked as a result, then to probably be discontinued.

Similar apps i.e Find My Friends focusing on seeing where friends are have been around for awhile, so the idea is not unique, but integrating it within a social network hasn’t been done before.

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One good thing is that you’ll be able to see little heat maps where clusters of snaps are being uploaded, which could suggest a big event or concert is on nearby which could be worth checking out. The story search feature is also pretty cool – this lets you search stories and news by location on an actual physical, interactive map. It also raises questions regarding the reporting of news – allowing users to check facts in real time and check what is going on in a certain area by clicking on the story for that area.

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Plainly, this new feature will lead to hysteria in the same way Facebook Live has. On the surface, it could be used to enhance relationships and increase app engagement but let’s be honest, it could be used for more sinister purposes. It’s already gone viral as one person found out her boyfriend was cheating on her by using Snap Map… 

For a business that has been condemned for its over-zealous use of data, it’s questionable that it responds to that condemnation with more questionable use of data.

Is Snap Map just the start of Snapchat’s plan to collect as much data as possible to create the most powerful ad manager tool? It will only give them further power to segment their data. Snapchat needed an update to gain traction since Instagram stories overtook Snapchat stories by 250 million daily users Vs Snapchat’s 166 million. Snapchat’s quest to cure loneliness might be noble but it could end up isolating the app itself from a wealth of users who just want a simple user experience.

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AUTHOR: JAMES MURPHY

James is a recent Business Marketing University Graduate. He’s been immersed within our agencies Digital Marketing team to work with existing clients and support the development of AB’s profile through social and content marketing.

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