A slew of viral articles on Twitter and TikTok in the last week have prompted concerns about how Snapchat might “know when you were born.” As it turns out, you probably gave the app this information, most likely as part of its popular Astrological Profile function.
Snapchat may have learnt when and where you were born without you giving it any information other than your birthday, according to viral posts on Twitter and TikTok. This is not the case, which is maybe unsurprising. Snapchat explained to the Verge that users provide this information as part of the app’s “Astrological Profile” feature.
The birth date and time information shown above was actually inputted by the users themselves in order to obtain more specific information, stemming from our latest astrological profiles feature. The feature requires exact birth date and time from each person in order to calculate their exact star chart reading.
We take the privacy of personally identifiable information very seriously at Snap, and this more granular birth date and time information is used only for this astrological profile feature.
Snapchat introduced Astrological Profiles in November of last year, allowing users to “share and compare horoscopes on their stories and assess their relative compatibility with pals,” according to the Verge. The information displayed on the Snapchat app’s Profile page is private and not visible to your friends.
A side effect of letting Snapchat play astrologer is that the app now has the full details of your birthday and birthplace stored in the “Birthday” section of settings as “My Astrological Birthday.” Snapchat doesn’t share any birth information unless you want it to (at most, that would be your birth date with friends), and you can delete that specific birth time and location information at any time with a tap. None of these individual pieces of information are particularly damaging on their own, but this is a good illustration of how apps can collect information about you over time, even if it’s never meant to be shared or necessarily used by the app at all.
Whether or not you should reveal your birth time and location is a topic for another time, and ultimately a personal decision. Despite what some users on TikTok and Twitter may claim, Snapchat wants you to know that there is nothing malicious going on here.