How To Clean Up Your Privacy On Snapchat

Snapchat is rolling out a brand-new update that makes it even easier for your friends to find you on its "Snap Map". Even though you have to opt in for your Bitmoji to appear on the map, this is a great time to review your Snapchat privacy settings (and wave goodbye to the Snap Map, if you aren't interested).

Screenshot: David Murphy

Avoiding the Snap Map trap

I confess, I can't recall agreeing to opt into Snapchat's "Snap Map," but I'm sure I absentmindedly click on an approval shortly after the feature debuted in June of last year. In the time since — for what little I use Snapchat — the feature has always felt slightly creepy to me. It's one thing to append location information as a line of text above a photograph on a social service; it's another to have a pretty, working map that lets you scan through where your friends are (or have been) based on the last public Snapchats they have sent out.

It looks like my Snapchat friends are at work today.Screenshot: David Murphy

To access the Snap Map in Snapchat's horrible new UI, open up the app and pinch. Resist the urge to tap anywhere on the map, or else you'll start seeing any publicly posted Snaps around that location. Instead, tap on the gear icon in the upper-right corner.

In this Settings screen, you'll be able to flip on Ghost Mode — which prevents you from appearing on Snap Map — or at least filter to just specific friends who you're comfortable sharing your location with.

"Ooooooo, ghost cup!"Screenshot: David Murphy

Rethinking your Snapchat privacy in general

While you have the app open, now's a great time to review the rest of your Snapchat privacy settings. To do that, back out of Snap Maps by tapping the arrow icon in the upper-left corner. Then, tap there again — on your Bitmoji head, or whatever icon appears to the left of Snapchat's search bar — to pull up your profile.

Wave hello to your Snapchat QR code (or "Snapcode"), which you have probably never used.

Tap on the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Snapchat profile to finally access Snapchat's primary Settings menu. While there are plenty of useful options to through through, here are the ones you should care most about:

  • Mobile Number

Screenshot: David Murphy

Tap on your phone number, and you can set whether you want to allow others to find you if they know your digits. On one hand, it's an easy way to start sexting with that person you gave your number to at the bar the other night. On the other hand, it's an easy way to ensure that person you gave your number to at the bar last night will never be able to slide into your Snaps.

Screenshot: David Murphy

  • Login Verification 

There's no reason why you shouldn't be using two-factor authentication for your Snapchat account. The next time you (or someone else) tries to log into your account, you'll have to verify the login by typing in a number you receive from a text message or third-party authenticator app. (And don't forget to create and save your recovery code somewhere, just in case you're moving devices or lose your phone number.)

  • Additional Services > Manage

If you don't want to share "location or usage" data with Snapchat's map providers — all anonymized, but still — you can flip that off in this screen; just tap on the "Maps" section.

  • Who Can...

Screenshot: David Murphy

This entire section in Snapchat's settings menu is the biggie, as it's where you can set your default privacy options for Snapchat's core features. You can set whether everyone, or just your friends, should be able to contact you with Snaps, chats and calls; you can set the default viewing rights for Snap Stories (Everyone, just your friends, or a custom subset of your friends); you can make the same Snap Maps privacy adjustments we mentioned earlier; and you can opt-out of Snapchat's "Quick Add" feature, which allows another user to potentially add you as a friend if you have a mutual friend in common.


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