Hook Research regularly works with young people around the UK to give them insight into what it means to work in media research. Ellis spent a week at Hook, exploring the broadcast landscape currently. As part of her work with us, Ellis pulled together a short piece of research exploring the launch of a new service in Snapchat that has parents across the country up in arms…
Snapchat has around 166 million daily users with about 3 billion snaps being sent each day – that’s a lot of time being spent on Snapchat. Now, they have just released a new feature called Snap Map that tracks where Snapchat users are, whenever they’re logged in. This new development has a lot of people, particularly parents, upset – but what do Snapchat’s young users think about the update?
Quick Catch-up: What is Snapchat?
If you’re new to the social media game this is a quick summary of what you need to know about Snapchat.
Originally, Snapchat allowed people to send one person a picture for a short amount of time. Once it had been opened it could not be viewed again.
However, Snapchat has updated and is now more community focused. It now includes the ‘stories’ feature, where people can upload a snap for their friends on Snapchat to see for 24 hours. If the user decides to share their snap with ‘our story’, then the greater Snapchat nation can view it.
It is within this emphasis on community that Snapchat’s newest development sits: the Snap Map.
What is Snap Map?
One of the newest features that has been launched on Snapchat is the new Snap Map update where people can view where their friends are on a map.
By zooming out on the Snapchat camera, you can pop out your Snap Map. On the map, you can see all your contacts’ ‘Bitmojis’ (personalised avatars on Snapchat) and where they are in the world. Not only can you see which part of the country they are in but you can even zoom into the map and find out which road they are on.
There have been lots of different views about the new feature: some users find it fun and exciting, being able to spy on their friends and meet up with them if they see they’re near-by. At the same time, others (mainly parents) find it ‘dangerous’ and ‘an invasion of privacy’.
Talking to young people about Snapchat
Have Snapchat taken it too far this time? When I was working at Hook Research I asked young people (who are regular Snapchat users) what they thought about the new Snap Map feature.
Many were pretty positive about the feature: young users told us that it allowed people to experience different cultures from all over the world. They felt that this aspect of Snap Map was amazing because people could view stories from places where big events were happening live – even if they’re happening on the other side of the world.
In regard to privacy, they pointed out that you can change your settings on the Snap Map feature so that: 1) all your friends on Snapchat can view your location; 2) only friends you select can view your location; or 3) ghost mode – no one can view your location. Furthermore, they reminded me that Snap Map is not the first social network to show peoples locations: Instagram allows you to share your location on a post and you can also ‘check-in’ on Facebook.
Of course, young users did have precautions about Snap Map, saying that it may cause some concern about tracking and privacy, and while most young people were fine with the idea of Snap Map, in practice most people had their own locations set to Ghost Mode. They also didn’t find themselves using the Snap Map feature as frequently as they used the main app – only checking on their friends’ locations every couple of days, or so.
While the issues around privacy are important, there is a real feeling that many young users just see the update as an interesting gimmick. Does this mean that snap map could fade out in time?