You could argue that Snapchat has had one of the biggest returns in the social platform category in recent years, and now it’s trying to capitalize on that with a premium option… .
Before Instagram Stories existed, which allowed you to snap a photo or video quickly and only last for 24 hours, Snapchat led the way. However, in 2016, the app had a redesign that was so hated that it caused several users to switch to Instagram.
However, it has had an impressive turnaround since then, attracting teens with unique filters and influencer partnerships, and is a top social platform once again.
But with Snapchat Plus (opens in new tab)which offers exclusive features for $3.99 / £3.99 / AU$4.89 a month on iPhone and Android, a so-called ‘Ghost Trail’ made me uncomfortable after subscribing and eventually led to me canceling my subscription.
A potentially dangerous feature for some people
Snap has been trying to expand the app in recent years, with Spectacles allowing you to post snaps through wearable glasses, for example.
Snapchat Plus (opens in new tab) is following the Twitter Blue subscription model of offering exclusive features for one price. After signing up, you can use the following:
- Pin a contact as best friend
- Provides an indicator of how many times someone has watched your story
- Custom app icons/themes on iOS, coming soon on Android
- Snapchat Plus badge
- Friend Solar System – gives you a chat of who your closest friends are
- Ghost trails on the snap map
Each of these features is fun enough – I’ve changed the app icon to a pride variant, for example, while having a badge and ‘pinning’ my wife as a best friend contact helps when we’re sending snaps to each other.
But soon after, a feature made me unsubscribe from the service.
For those who don’t know, Snap Map allows you to open a map and view Stories from anywhere in the world. If there is a heat map, it means there are multiple stories to watch. It can be useful to see the places you are about to visit on vacation, for example, or to see where some friends are if you are traveling with them.
However, Ghost Trails goes a step further with this as it makes a yellow line appear for your friends, showing where they’ve been in the last 24 hours.
This instantly made me uncomfortable. In fact, you can see where your friends or partners have been, subject to their settings, and that seems like a bad move.
Considering Apple is rolling out features in iOS 16 to make it easier to restrict your information and location to others, this seems like a huge step backwards from Snap.
Hopefully the company will get rid of this feature and come back with something with privacy in mind, but for now, if you’re a big Snapchat user, go to your profile and enable ‘Ghost Mode’. That way, no one can see where you’ve been and where you currently are on the map.