snap has announced that it will temporarily disable Snapchat’s “heatmap” feature for Ukraine, which will stop the app from showing how many photos are taken in certain locations. The company says the move is “a security measure” and there will still be a curated public feed of snaps submitted by Ukrainians.
Normally, the Snap Map displays a color code to show how many people are posting public images in an area. In practice, that means you get a good idea of where Snapchat users are concentrated. While this publicly available data usually doesn’t make sense (it’s no surprise that more people are posting from downtown Seattle than the nearby national forest), in a war scenario where Russia may want to monitor evacuations or civilian movements, it’s probably best that the function is disabled.
Other companies have taken similar actions to make the movements of Ukrainians more difficult to track – Google has turned off live traffic information in Ukraine, as has Apple. Snap has also taken some additional actions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to a news release from the company, it no longer displays ads in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and does not sell ad spots to Russian entities.