Snapchat Snap Map: Parents warned about steps they can take to protect children’s privacy

'I don't know what you guys think but I think this is so dangerous. This is a step too far'

Aatif Sulleyman
Tuesday 04 July 2017 17:48 BST
Snapchat release new Snap Map feature

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Louise Thomas

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Snapchat’s controversial new feature allows other people to see exactly where you are in real time, and parents are being advised to take steps to protect their children’s privacy.

Snap Map uses data such as your location, speed of travel and phone usage to work out where you are and what you’re doing, and shares this information with your friends on an interactive map.

The map, which you can launch by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen, is precise enough to show not only what street you’re on, but also whereabouts on that street you are.

Parents are being urged to read up on it, and to ensure their children are aware of the risks that can come with sharing too much information through social media.

A video about Snap Map that was posted to Facebook by Loose Women’s Nadia Sawalha has been viewed 25 million times at the time of writing.

After her daughter explains how the feature works, Ms Sawalha says, “This is so dangerous. I don't know what you guys think but I think this is so dangerous. This is a step too far. I'm completely horrified by this but what do you think?

“Am I being a really overprotective mother? What do you think? Are your kids using it? Did you know it existed? I didn't even know it existed 24 hours ago.”

Fortunately, Snapchat lets you opt out of sharing your location with ‘Ghost Mode’, which is enabled by default.

However, while Ghost Mode hides you from your friends’ maps, it still allows you to track any of your friends who haven’t turned it on.

You can also choose to share your location with all of your friends or a selection of them.

The launch of Snap Map has also prompted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to update its ‘Thinkuknow’ parents’ and carers’ guide to Snapchat.

“It is important that young people understand exactly who can see their location on Snap Maps,” it now reads. “Allowing all Snapchat friends (some of whom may be strangers) to see this information can present a risk to young people, as they will be able to see their exact location in real time.

“Have a conversation with your child about what they do online, who they share their location with, and ways they can keep themselves safe. If they are meeting a friend in a busy place, encourage them to use a private message app or text to share personal information like location.”

While Snap’s Terms of Service state that under-13s aren’t allowed to create an account or use the company’s services, it isn’t actually impossible for younger children to create an account, as there’s no age verification barrier at present.

“Like many other sites and apps, Snapchat is popular for both adults and children and there is concern that strangers can contact young people directly by sending images or messages or requesting to become ‘friends’,” the ‘Thinkuknow’ guide continues.

“Be aware that some young people share their Snapchat username on other social media platforms and this allows other users to request to follow them on Snapchat. Users can also add others using their phone number, therefore sharing a mobile number means they may be added on Snapchat.”

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