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Snapchat Just Released a New Feature That Could Be Harmful for Abuse Victims

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

Snapchat just released a new feature called Snapchat+ that unveils new features at a premium rate utilizing a subscription-based model. Should you opt in, you gain the ability to do some select things such as physically being able to pick your number one best friend, change your icon color, see how many times people have replayed your snaps, and the creepiest of them all, see everywhere a person has been within the last 24 hours if their location is on and by utilizing Snapchat Ghost Trails. 

Here’s why this feature could be very dangerous for a lot of people, especially younger folk.

When you’re in an abusive or toxic relationship, it’s not strange for a partner to want control over you. It’s easy for people like that to want to know where you’ve been, who you’ve been with, amongst other things and details. 

Yes, someone can choose to have their location turned off, but for people in harmful relationships that choice may not be theirs and this just gives their abuser a deeper look into their lives, especially if they are still in the relationship.

While this could be a helpful tool for finding drunken friends out late at night downtown or for figuring out if your friends went to McDonald’s without you when you explicitly told them not to, I’m paranoid it’s going to put more abuse survivors and victims, past and present, at risk, especially because Snapchat doesn’t tell you which of your friends has Snapchat+. Unless your friends opt in for a badge that showcases it, you have no way of knowing. Thus if your location is on and you’re in a toxic relationship and your partner has this feature, your privacy isn’t only at risk, but your safety as well. 

Snapchat makes it so you can disable Ghost Trails if you have the feature, but you can’t control it if someone else has the feature.

 A caption pops up that says "disable ghost trails, disabling ghost trails disables your ability to view the Ghost Trails of friends. Friends that subscribe to snapchat+ who can view you on the map will still be able to view your ghost trail.'

Social media can be a great connection tool, but it can also be a slippery slope. If you’re able to have your location off, consider doing so. You can do so by turning on Ghost Mode within the app.

A screenshot of snapchat where you can see "Ghost mode"

This is a reminder to check your location settings, and if you are in a toxic or dangerous situation, that there is help available. That, and if social media gives you anxiety there are ways to cope and tend to those triggers.

You’re not alone. We love you.

Lead image courtesy of contributor.

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