How to turn off Snapchat’s location-based Snap Map

Snapchat’s Snap Map, which allows users to access public posts associated with specific locations, was met with understandable criticism when it first rolled out in 2017. Although the feature was originally marketed as a way to see posts uploaded to Our Story — something that proved useful in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — the fact that the app was sharing your location whenever you opened it was kind of swept under the rug.

Besides the obvious dangers this feature could pose for younger users or those unfamiliar with the capabilities of location-sharing, who really wants their friends (or parents for that matter) knowing where they are at all times? Many users likely enabled the feature when posting to Our Story for the first time, without realizing exactly how much access they were giving the app. Thankfully, we’ve outlined how to disable the Snap Map below, as well as ways to limit who can see your location if you wish to keep it enabled.

How does Snap Map work exactly?

If you’ve enabled the feature, your location will be updated on the Snap Map whenever you open Snapchat. Precise location data will only be displayed for a short period of time, but general location data may be retained for longer (although it’s unclear exactly how long these periods are). If you tap on a friend’s Bitmoji on the map, you’ll see when their location was last updated. This also reflects the last time they opened the app, and they can do the same for you. Locations will remain on the map for up to eight hours, assuming you don’t open the app again during that time period. If more than eight hours have passed since you last opened the app, your location will disappear from the map until the next time you do.

You can also tap hotspots, colorful points on the map that indicate activity, to see the public posts in that area. You can zoom in and out of the map, too, like you would with any dedicated navigation app. You may also see sponsored events or newsworthy stories with a short description next to them, which you can click to access associated Snaps.

Enabling Ghost Mode

If you don’t like the idea of your friends knowing exactly where you are at all times (and who would?), you can enable Ghost mode, which will prevent your location from being updated on the map. You can still post to Our Story with Ghost Mode enabled, but it will give you the peace of mind that no one is following your every move. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open Snapchat

First, launch the Snapchat app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. If you’re not already logged in, enter your email and password before opening the camera portion of the app.

Step 2: Find the Snap Map

Using two fingers, pinch in toward the center of your screen to access the Snap Map.

Step 3: Open settings and toggle Ghost Mode on

To access your Settings, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your screen. Afterward, toggle the slide beside Ghost Mode, which should be the first item in the resulting list.

With Ghost Mode enabled, your friends won’t be able to see your location on the map. You will still be able to see your own avatar, but it will be holding a blue Snapchat logo in front of its face to indicate that other users can’t see it. Keep in mind that you can turn Ghost Mode off at any time by following the same steps.

Editing your privacy settings

If you’re comfortable periodically sharing your location, you can still limit the people who have access to your data. Under Ghost Mode in your Settings is a section titled Who Can See My Location. Whichever option has a blue check mark next to it, is the option you currently have selected. My Friends refers to all the users you’ve added on Snapchat who have also added you back. My Friends, Except allows you to select certain friends you wish to hide your location from, and Only These Friends lets you select the mutual friends who will have access to your location data.

Pick whichever option you’re more comfortable with, or follow the steps above to prevent your location from being shared altogether.

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