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Snapchat now offers real-time location tracking so your friends can watch your back

The feature seems great… on paper.

snapchat real-time location data
Image: KnowTechie

Snapchat says its new, real-time location tracking feature is meant to be used as a kind of a safety check-in when friends are on dates or stumbling home drunk.

There is a kind of sparkle-in-the-eyes optimism when a social media company attempts to appear to care about social good and the well-being of its users. But in the end, Snapchat’s real-time location tracking is just another feature on another app for users to abuse.

Snapchat has had a map feature for years, but it only offered a general location when turned on.

READ MORE: Snapchat is reportedly adding a paid tier for early-access features

Now, it’s gone full parental control. It is partnering with It’s On Us, a national nonprofit program that is working toward stopping campus sexual assault. Even though Snapchat’s reasoning is altruistic, real-time location sharing still has some Life360-mom-is-watching vibes.

snapchat real-time location sharing
Image: Snap

READ MORE: A new Snapchat update lets other users see your precise location

Yet, if Apple Watch can freaking save lives, then it stands to reason that Snapchat could possibly do the same. It saves the effort of an emergency text (perhaps) and could possibly enable a friend to save another friend from a dicey situation, to say the least.

The new Snapchat feature isn’t turned on by default, but it can be enabled for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. Only mutual friends can use the feature, and they can pause it without the follower receiving a notification (stalking in mind).

READ MORE: How to send YouTube links as stickers in Snapchat

There is no option to share location with all friends, only one at a time. Naturally, with a feature like this on a free social media app, we have to wonder not only who our friends really are, but what is Snapchat getting out of all of this?

Snapchat is getting that delicious location data Yum Yum sauce. Location data provides all kinds of data points for advertising purposes. Of course, Snapchat has likely had access to that data for years with live mapping through your phone’s location data.

READ MORE: Snapchat Plus adds BFFs and Story stats for $3.99 a month

Ad dollars drive every new feature within free social media apps, and why not? That’s what pays for the app you love to ignore the world with.

This isn’t the only new feature Snapchat has introduced recently

how to change snapchat username on ios and android
Snapchat’s new name-changing feature (Image: Snap)

READ MORE: Snap launched a desktop version of its mobile app

This feature comes on the back of Snapchat allowing you to change your username, another step in discouraging stalkers. Regardless, lawmakers are not satisfied that Snap and others are doing enough to protect the children, but that’s a story for another day.

Snapchat is just making it easier for your children to share their location with social media friends – a loosely-defined concept, to say the least.

For parents, they can use this new feature to also track their kids. You know, instead of having important conversations about the psychological demands of social media.

With every new social media feature, there are some good intentions. But it’s too early to tell if allowing access to live location data will have a positive impact.

Someone will find some way to exploit it. So, it’s a race to see if this feature results in positive news pertaining to its use, or something more tragic born of naiveté and arrogant social media callousness.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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