Snapchat rolled out a new mapping feature today, and like all great social-media experiments, it’s walking the line between creepy and extremely cool. Called Snap Map — negative-ten points for the name — the new, entirely opt-in feature shows you a, well, map of where your friends are in the world.
The map uses Actionmoji (think Bitmoji but smarter) to designate where you are and, here’s where the potential creep factor comes in, what you’re up to. “To infer the best Actionmoji, Snapchat may look at things like your location, time of day, or speed of travel,” Snapchat explained in a release. “Examples of Actionmojis today include things like: at the beach, at the airport, sitting and a handful more.” I’m sitting at my desk right now listening to some Taylor Swift on my iPhone — she’s back on Spotify, in case you missed that news — so my Actionmoji is wearing headphones.
Snap Map also shows you major events where people are snapping all over the globe. You’ll see them as circular icons — concerts, protests, major landmarks full of tourists — which you can tap to get a closer look. The feature also has a heat map, which shows you locations where multiple people are also snapping from. To test this, I zoomed over to my hometown and, unsurprisingly, the “hottest” section of the map was the local Six Flags amusement park. Only snaps that users submit to Snapchat’s Our Story will be visible on the public map, and the snaps will vanish after 24 hours. If a group of your friends appears to be hanging out at the same location, then the app gives you an option to start a chat. Which seems like an easy way to overcome your FOMO and say, “Hey guys, why wasn’t I invited to this hang.”
To use the new feature, update your app and then pinch into the center of the screen on the camera page. You’ll be prompted to choose who gets to see your snaps: all your friends, select friends, or just you, a.k.a. “ghost mode.” You can always change your selection in settings later. Your location on the map, and your Actionmoji, will only update when you open the app. If you don’t use Snapchat for several hours, you’ll vanish from the map.