Snapchat launches real-time location sharing feature

By Ramishah Maruf, CNN

Snapchat on Friday announced a buddy system-like feature that lets its users share their real-time location with friends over a period of time.

The safety feature is being rolled out as more people return to school campuses, travel, go out on dates and otherwise get back to what they were doing before the pandemic, the company said. The feature, which is similar to Apple’s Find My app, allows users to share their real-time locations with a friend for 15 minutes, an hour, or up to eight hours.

Snapchat has partnered with It’s On Us, a nonprofit founded in 2014 to combat sexual assault on campuses, to create the characteristic.

Since 2017, Snapchat has allowed users to share their locations with friends on its Snap Map feature, which updates a location only when the user has opened the app. The company said 250 million users use Snap Map every month.

Last May, Snapchat said it had reached 500 million monthly active users. According to a survey conducted by the company, 78% of his American users of the application would not hesitate to share their locations on Snap Map, and most do so as a safe way to connect with others.

Like the Snap Map, the new feature will remain disabled by default. Snapchatters can turn on their location “in an instant”, the company said, but only with specific friends. To reduce the risk of harassment, the company has limited the time and with whom Snapchatters can share their instant location.

Snapchatters can start using the feature by going to a friend’s profile and tapping on a new option that allows live sharing. The app provides a pop-up PSA that informs users that the feature should only be shared with trusted friends and family members.

The company also announced this week that Snapchatters can change their usernames starting in late February – a feature previously unavailable in the US.

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