Why is Snapchat showing the wrong Location of my Friend

Is your friend’s Snapchat location showing him in Dubai or in the middle of the ocean? Does your other contacts appear in a weird remote location away from their actual location? Sounds suspicious and weird to say the least.

Or does your Snapchat location show you in different places making your family, friends and near dear ones worry about you? This is a cause of concern as many use Snapchat’s location services to determine where friends and family are in real-time.

If you are facing this problem worry not as we will look into this matter comprehensively in this article. To know how accurate Snapchat’s location services are and why it shows you or your friends in different inaccurate places, continue reading to know more.

Why is Snapchat showing the wrong location of my friend?

Snapchat is showing the wrong location of your friend because Snapchat is using the last location of your friend that may be because your friend haven’t opened the app for quite a while. It can also be that your friend is using a location changing app.

Snapchat first launched its location services back in 2017. The feature allows users to see their friends on a map that is updated in real time whenever the app is open.  Friends of users can now see where their friends are on a large accurate map through the help of GPS tracking and location.

However, sometimes the locations show users in off location and do not show accurate positions of user.

To understand this situation better we need to understand how Snapchat’s location services work.

Graphical representation of Snapchat on a yellow background
Image Source: Alexander Shatov via Unsplash

1. Last used Snapchat location.

Users have to understand that Snapchat’s location services activates only when users open their apps.

That means that a user’s live location is only broadcasted when he/she opens his/her Snapchat app.

That means that it is not necessary that the user is located at the exact location where Snapchat says the user is. The location shown on the app is just the place where the user opened the app last.

That means if the user opened Snapchat at a particular location 3 hours ago, and hasn’t opened it since, the location shows the same old location to other users.

This can cause users confusion as they may think that the user is still at that particular location.

2. Outdated location of users being displayed

When a friend opens his/her Snapchat app, their live location gets updated on a map.

The location of the user then stays on the map for the next 8 hours. If users do not open their app in the meanwhile, their old location is shown for up to 8 hours. This  can cause Snapchat to show outdated location info of friends.

Snapchat however claims that no data on user location is stored after expiry of 8 hours.

That means that after broadcasting location for 8 hours, Snapchat deletes all traces of user location from its servers.

3. Friends using a location changing app.

There are certain apps on the internet that allow users to alter their GPS location.

Using this app users can display their location at anywhere in the world where ever they want.

While most android users can straight up download a GPS spoofing app on their phone, iPhone users can also change location by hooking their phone up to a PC.

Some of the more powerful GPS spoofing tools can also help you fake movement in your location.

This kind of app is easy to download and use and can be the reason why your friend’s location shows them in places that they are not.

Why does Snapchat show my wrong location?

Having your own location displayed in a different place can cause a lot of inconvenience at times. People may get the wrong info and try to search for you or doubt your honesty of your whereabouts. It is therefore best that your location coincides perfectly with your exact location to avoid hassle and trust issues.

Snapchat’s location are generally fairly accurate but like any other tech is not 100% foolproof. The location that you show in your Snapchat map can be controlled and is best based off estimations taken from your GPS and cellular network.

Some reasons why Snapchat shows wrong location can be as follows:

1. Lack of Internet Connectivity.

A lack of proper internet connectivity can show you in the wrong place on a Snapchat map. Users despite opening their Snapchat app will only be able to update location when a stable internet connection is available. The user’s location while using the app will update to the last place where they had proper internet connectivity.

Even though users try to update their new location, without proper internet connectivity it would not be possible to do so.

2. Location based on cellular triangulation.

Many services use cellular triangulation method to find out user’s approximate location. The location found based off of this method is dependent on the cellular network and the strength of the connectivity at a particular place.

A picture of a cellphone signal tower used for signal triangulation
Image Source: Jeremy Bezanger via Unsplash

As the name suggests the method requires at least three cellular network towers to arrive at an approximate location of the user. This method however may not be the most accurate as it is highly dependent on cellular tower placement and density for a proper result. A person living in an area with sparse cellular towers is most likely to not show up or fetch poor results in location.

Based off of the network type users are on some amount of deviations should be expected.

  • 2G: 150 meter to up to 450 ft.
  • 3G : 100 meters to up to 300ft.
  • 4G : 70 meter to up to 150 to 250 ft.
  • 5G : 10–50 meters to up to 30-100 ft.

Users should understand that their location accuracy is also subject to the cellular connectivity they have.

How accurate is Snapchat location?

For most parts, Snapchat’s location is pretty accurate. Given a well visited place with good GPS signal and a wireless connection, results can be pretty accurate. It will provide location info on the users where about and where they were located last while using the app. However, users are advised to take live location status with a pinch of salt as locations are not updated in real-time.

That means location of user are based off of their frequency of usage of the app. User’s location is not tracked in real-time as they move and is only updated whenever their Snapchat app in is use. If users turn off their mobile network or do not access their app for more than 8 hours, their locations may not even be shown or updated on the app.

Sometimes if users are around an area that hasn’t been mapped out properly or is not frequented by people, locations take an approximation. Here user’s location can be sometimes paired with other users as well as the services take a guess.

Hence, we can say that Snapchat’s location services are pretty accurate but is subject to user’s habit, internet connectivity, GPS conditions etc.


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Q1. Can Snapchat location be inaccurate ?

Ans: Snapchat’s location services are based off of estimates, that user can choose to believe or not. Snapchat users and their locations are updated every time they open the app, however their location cannot always be 100% accurate. GPS can only track users up to a certain point and the presence of dense vegetation or large building can often hinder the accuracy of such services.

Q2. What does my location show on Snapchat when my phone is off?

Ans: Snapchat continues showing your last known location despite your phone being off. The last location continues to be shown for a maximum of 8 hours after which it is removed.

Q3. Some of my friend’s Bitmoji disappears after being on the map for less than 8 hours, how?

Ans: If user’s Bitmoji on the Snapchat map disappears before 8 hours it probably means that they activated “Ghost Mode”. In this mode Snapchat does not track the users whereabouts despite users being online. Users can continue to go undetected for an indefinite a time as they want, until the setting back off.

Q4. Is Snapchat’s location services safe?

Ans: Snapchat’s map and location feature is a great feature to have to tab on your friends and families. It can be incredibly useful to see what your friends are up to and which events they are attending. However, it can be used for a great deal of misdeed too. The location services are only shared with mutual followers, so make sure to add only trustworthy people on Snapchat.

Q5. How many times can I update my location on Snapchat in a day?

Ans: As long as users have a proper internet connection with GPS turned on and Ghost mode turned off, users can continuously update their location on Snapchat.

Final Words

Snapchat is a great app where users can instantly send fun images and videos to interact with each other.

The location service is probably the app’s biggest USP.

However, it has been known to cause a lot of confusion with its accuracy.

We intended to dig deeper into the cause and find out how accurate the location services are on Snapchat and have come up with this article.

We hope that users found it useful reading this article and have had their doubts cleared while doing so.

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A perennial tech-head with a knack for words, sneakers and fast cars. Likes to be in the know, of anything upcoming and cutting edge. Will probably sit down and talk to anyone over a cup of coffee. The coffee has to be good.