Moved by the current events in Ukraine, I felt compelled to see first-hand what it is like in the war-stricken zones to identify potential ways I can help (if any way possible). But, unfortunately, the “day-to-day” life information I was looking to discover isn’t on the news. So I took to social media to learn from those experiencing the war in Ukraine.
I opened up Snapchat, navigated to the Snap Map, and zoomed in on Ukraine. Unfortunately, the usual heat map showing where the most concentrated activity is no longer on the map. Why? I thought. Did the internet go out? Did Elon Musks Starlink, a satellite-provided internet, fail to connect?
A simple internet search provided me with two informative pieces of information.
1) The reason why Snap disabled the Snap Map in Ukraine
2) Starlink is operating fine
Snap tweeted that the heatmap functionality in Ukraine was disabled as a safety precaution for Ukrainians. The heatmap is a popular feature that provides users a way of experiencing events, locations, and areas of high interest from their phones. However, this feature can be exploited during wartime, giving critical information to those with ill intentions. So, the decision to disable the heatmap in Ukraine is best even though Snap could disable this feature earlier.
Snap is one of many tech companies limiting public data. Google, TikTok, and Apple have disabled critical map location data on their apps, some going as far as rejecting business with Russia.