How to Optimize Your Snapchat Privacy Settings – A Full Guide

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Snapchat Privacy Settings - A Quick Guide

Like most social media sites, Snapchat uses your personal data and activity on the app to improve its services and personalize your experience. While seeing your friend in the SnapMap is nice when you’re trying to meet up downtown, it can also open you up to safety risks. Even sharing your personal information like name, number, or photos puts you at risk of hacking, cyberstalking, or cyberbullying.

If you haven’t checked your privacy settings on Snapchat in a while, it’s time to do that to make sure it’s secure as possible. It only takes a few minutes. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Scroll to “Additional Services” then, “Manage.”
  3. Go to “Ad Preferences
  4. Toggle off all options.

Next, go to “Who Can…” under Settings and limit who can interact with you or see your location on Snapchat.

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Next, find “Who Can…
  3. Review the options under Contact Me, View My Story, See My Location, Use My Cameo Selfies, and See Me in Quick Add.
  4. Change the options to “Only Me” or “My Friends.”

You should also consider using a VPN to really hide your online activity. We recommend using NordVPN.

Read how to optimize your Snapchat privacy settings in detail in this guide below.

Snapchat App IconIs Snapchat safe? The answer comes down to understanding how Snapchat uses your data and how the Snapchat Privacy Policy protects your data. Secondly, you can take steps as a Snapchat user to change your privacy settings and improve Snapchat security in your account.

It only takes a few minutes to review your privacy settings through the app, and it’s essential that you do so. You can make sure that you only reveal the information you are comfortable with being public.

In this article, we’ll answer your pressing questions about how exactly Snapchat protects your data and what concerns exist in terms of Snapchat’s privacy policy and security.

We Answer: Is Your Snapchat Secure? Is Snapchat Safe?

Just like platforms such as OnlyFans, Snapchat deals with a lot of images and videos that can easily reveal who you are. And, like many other social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter, Snapchat collects data about you and your device to shape your experience and use targeted advertising.

Additionally, without setting the right privacy and security settings, you could expose your Snapchat account to serious privacy risks. If your information is not secure and readily available online, you might be putting yourself at risk for cyberstalking, cyberbullying, or online hacking.

In a nutshell, Snapchat’s only as safe as you make it. Avoid sharing personal details or identifiable information on such platforms, especially with people you don’t know.

Historic problems with Snapchat’s security

One year after its release in 2011, Snapchat had over 10 million users, primarily teenagers. Teenagers were fleeing Facebook as the platform started to attract a more aging audience. It also gathers a lot of data about users.

By 2013, Facebook attempted to buy Snapchat for $3 billion — an offer Spiegel ultimately rejected. Snapchat continued its explosive growth based on its promise that posts in Snapchat disappeared forever. Snapchat was “selling” privacy and by August 2014, 40% of 18 year-olds were hooked.

Snaps are not as invisible as you might think

Unfortunately, your Snaps are not quite as private as Snapchat had promised. Users were able to take screenshots of Snap text messages from their phones, and many third-party apps appeared that would save photos and videos posted on Snapchat.

Because Snapchat didn’t verify phone numbers from users when they signed up, fake accounts sprang up to collect information from users who thought they were chatting with a friend. This breach let 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers get into the wrong hands.

In a settlement with the FTC, it became clear that Snapchat couldn’t quite deliver on its promise to make your Snaps completely disappear forever after they were received. While the FTC did not fine Snapchat, they stated that they would monitor the company for privacy compliance for the next 20 years.

Location services are still invasive

In 2017, Snapchat released SnapMap. This feature raises concerns about privacy and safety issues because it shares your precise location with friends in the app. So, is Snapchat safe? Well, location services are dangerous when unmonitored, leading cyberstalkers straight to you.

Location services also share information with advertisers to send targeted advertisements. Furthermore, data that are available through your social media accounts can be used by phishing scams. A 2018 study showed that phishing scams achieved a 72% hit rate using data mined from social media.

Is Snapchat Encrypted?

In 2018, Snapchat announced end-to-end encryption for its network. However, this only applies to photos in chat, not text messages or other media sent by Snapchat users. There is very little information provided by Snapchat to explain how their encryption works, so it’s still wise to take privacy precautions and adjust your security settings in the app.

Features like “My Eyes Only” encrypt photos and place them behind a password. If someone does hack into your account, your photos and videos are more protected in “My Eyes Only” than in your “Memories.”

Find Out What Information You Are Sharing with Snapchat

Do you know what information you are sharing with the world through your Snapchat account? Probably not. When people ask themselves, “Is Snapchat safe?” one of the first places they should start looking is the Snapchat Privacy Policy.

But, most people don’t scour through these legal documents, even though it details information about how the company uses your personal data. To make matters easier, we’ve run through the policy and highlighted the key points for our readers.

What Snapchat collects from you

  • Information you provide like username, phone number, and device information
  • Information the app requires like your location, contacts, what you watch, what features you use, what content you create, and cookies
  • Logging information including IP addresses, sites visited, what times you visited the app, and browser details
  • Third-party data such as information about other apps you link to Snapchat, info provided by advertisers, and if another Snapchat user imports their contact list, Snapchat compares it to the data they have about you

How Snapchat uses the information they collect

  • Improve and develop services
  • Communicate with you
  • Send targeted ads to “personalize their services”
  • Help you find other Snapchatters
  • Improve safety and security
  • Verify your identity
  • Add context to how you use the app, like adding labels to your memories, changing how you or your content shows up in searches
  • Enforce or investigate potential privacy policy or Terms of Service violations

However, there are simple steps you can take as a Snapchat user to protect your personal information.

Next, we’ll take you through step-by-step to review your Snapchat security and help you secure your information on Snapchat. Finally, you can make a conscious choice about what information you want to share with friends and the wider world that is eager to take advantage of your data.

Snapchat’s Privacy Settings – An Overview

To access your privacy settings,  tap your profile picture in the app, which is located in the top left of the screen.

Next, tap the gear in the top right corner to access your settings. Then, scroll down till you see the heading “Additional Services” and tap on “Manage” to begin. Below we show what settings you can change to make your account more private.

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Settings window

Snapchat’s targeted ads

Snapchat uses parts of the data it gets from your use of the app to provide targeted advertisements to you and third-party advertisers. Here’s how to disable those features:

  1. Uncheck “Audience-Based” to disable targeting based on information received from advertisers.
  2. Turn off “Activity-Based” to disable ads targeted to you based on your activity in Snapchat.
  3. Remove “Third-Party Ad Networks” to disable targeted ads from third-party networks.

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Ad Preferences window

Manage Snapchat’s use of your contacts

By default, Snapchat does not sync your contacts with the app. However, if you’ve given Snapchat permission to do so in the past, it will collect information from your device phone book and keep updating your contacts whenever you make a change per the Snapchat Privacy Policy.

  1. First, from the “Manage” menu, scroll down to Contacts.
  2. Then, uncheck “Sync Contacts.”

You can also view all the contacts you’ve synced with Snapchat, or delete all your contacts’ information from the app.

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Manage Contacts window

Control who can contact you

If your goal is to decide, “Is Snapchat safe?” Then, you’ll want to take a good look at who you’ve given access to contact you. If “Everyone” can contact you, you open yourself up to being messaged by cyberstalkers or malicious actors.

Here’s how to change the “Contact Me” settings so you don’t have to worry about unsolicited messages.

  1. First, go to the “Settings” menu.
  2. Then, scroll down “Who Can…
  3. Next, click “Contact Me” to restrict who can contact you. Snapchat only provides one option to restrict this setting, “My friends.”

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Contact me window settings

Limit who can see your Snap Story

You have the option to show your Story to everyone or just your friends. You can even customize your Story to block certain friends from seeing any Snaps you add to your Story, here’s how.

  1. First, go to the “Who Can…” section of Settings.
  2. Next, click on “View My Story.”
  3. Lastly, You can restrict to “My Friends” or “Custom.”

Screenshot of Snapchat app, My story window settings

Restrict who can see your location

Anytime the Snapchat app is opened, Snapchat collects data about Snapchat users’ location. When analyzing, “Is Snapchat safe?” location tracking is one of the first things you want to look at.

Without the right Snapchat security settings selected, your contacts can see exactly where you are in the Snap Map, which can be problematic if someone has bad intentions.

How to change your SnapMap settings

You can disable the Snap Map feature by changing the settings in “See My Location.” Here, you can customize who, if anyone, can see or request your whereabouts on the SnapMap.

  1. Go to the “Who Can…” section of Settings.
  2. Check “Ghost Mode” to stay invisible to everyone, including friends. This is Snapchat’s default mode.
  3. To customize which friends can see your location, you can choose between three options: “My Friends,” “My friends, Except,” and “Only These Friends…” 
  4. Lastly, in this section, under “Location Requests,” friends can request to see your location if you tap “Allow friends to request location.”

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Settings, my location

Change who can see you in Quick Add

If you have mutual friends or interests, Snapchat may recommend you to others in their Quick Add feature. Another way to improve your Snapchat security is to limit who can see you in Quick Add.

Here’s how to change your Quick Add settings in Snapchat:

  1. Go to the “Who Can…” section of Settings.
  2. Tap on “See Me in Quick Add.”
  3. Toggle off the feature.

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Quick Add settings window

How to limit your Cameo Selfie settings

Snapchat Cameos are selfies with a background. You can limit who can use your cameo in Stories by adjusting your Cameo settings.

  1. Go to the “Who Can…” section of Settings.
  2. Tap on “Use My Cameos Selfie.”
  3. Choose between “Everyone,” “Only Me,” or “My Friends.” The option that gives you the most Snapchat privacy is “Only Me.”

Screenshot of Snapchat app, Use My Cameos Selfie window

Protecting Your Privacy Outside of Snapchat

That’s it! Congrats on taking those few simple steps to improve your Snapchat security.

However, even if you are careful about reading the Snapchat privacy policy or what you share in social media apps, you may be sharing more than you realize online in general. One easy way to safeguard your privacy online is to use the service of a quality VPN.

Use a VPN to Protect Your Privacy Online

A VPN helps keep your information anonymous online, protecting sensitive data and simply allowing you to maintain more privacy online.

You can also avoid restrictions on which websites you can visit from your place of work or geographic restrictions based on your location. You can learn more about VPNs before making a decision.

Apart from Snapchat, you might also want to review your privacy settings for other social media and messaging apps:

Snapchat Privacy Settings: Frequently Asked Questions

Read our FAQs to learn more about your safety on Snapchat!

If you don’t change your Snapchat privacy settings, Snapchat is not entirely safe. Features like location services and public photo sharing put you at risk of cyberstalking, cyberbullying, or online hacking.

Here’s how to adjust your security settings to be safer on Snapchat:

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Scroll to “Additional Services” then “Manage.”
  3. Go to “Ad Preferences.”
  4. Toggle off all options.

Next, go to “Who Can…” under Settings and limit who can interact with you or see your location on Snapchat.

Snapchat’s privacy policy explains that it does collect a lot of information about you including your location, device information, photos, username, and even information about what sites your visit and your browser details. It’s not the most private app, but it’s social media after all.

You can limit who sees your Snapchat by changing your privacy settings. Here’s how:

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Find “Who Can…”
  3. Review the options under Contact Me, View My Story, See My Location, Use My Cameo Selfies, and See Me in Quick Add.
  4. Change the options to “Only Me” or “My Friends.”
Online Safety Journalist
Allison has an impressive research background and a drive to stay on top of the latest trends in cybersecurity to help others combat cybercrime and stay safe online. She has covered a variety of topics but is passionate about informing the VPNOverview readers on online safety and privacy, especially for children and teens.