MM Awards

Snapchat rolls out backdrops, voice filters and links, as schools warn over Snap Map

Tyrone Stewart

Snapchat backdrop links mapSnapchat has decided to introduce less controversial features to its image messaging app, following the uproar surrounding the Snap Map feature it introduced last month.

The first feature is called ‘Backdrops’. This enables Snapchat users to place a choice of eight different patterns behind objects in their Snaps via the Vertical Toolkit.

Secondly, Snapchat has expanded voice filters to videos, enabling Snapchatters to choose from character voices to overlay over their own. The feature was previously only available in Lenses.

Finally, Snapchat has introduced a way for users to add weblinks to their Snaps through ‘Paperclip’. This enables users to direct their friends toward a specific webpage, which can be accessed by swiping up on the Snap.

The addition of these features, however, is unlikely to deflect the controversy surrounding its Snap Map feature – which enables users to see exactly where their friends are and what they’re up to anywhere in the world.

The feature came under fire in a viral Facebook video – that has garnered more than 26m views and nearly 770,000 shares so far – from actress and TV presenter Nadia Sawalha and her 14-year-old daughter. In the video, Sawalha says the feature is “dangerous” and “a step too far”.

Now, according to the BBC, some schools – and the child protection charity the NSPCC – have issued a warning over the feature due to its accuracy in identifying locations, suggesting it could be used to find out home addresses, travel routes, schools and workplaces. They have also criticised Snapchat for the way the feature was added without any form of detailed announcement.  

“The safety of our community is very important to us and we want to make sure that all Snapchatters, parents and educators have accurate information about how the Snap Map works,” said Snapchat in a statement. “With Snap Map, location-sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time. It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”