Snapchat has introduced a “whole new way!” (maybe new to Snap: not to Facebook, Apple and Google) for you to “explore the world” and “meet up with friends”: a location-sharing “Snap Map” that shows when nearby friends are…
…at a dance party!
…or a magic show!
…or having their privacy breached and their location leaked because they didn’t realize that Snap posts their location on Snap Map every time they open the app.
Looking at the Snap Map walkthrough you get when you update Snapchat might lead you to believe that you actually have to opt in to having your location shared when you’re at home, say, or maybe walking down a nearby dark alley, or at a best friend’s apartment… even though… huh… didn’t you say you were going out with Cindy to see a movie tonight?
But Snapchat is actually posting your location to Snap Map every time you open the app, not just when you share Snaps to Our Story.
Now bear in mind that Snapchat is crazy popular with children and teens.
Users aren’t limited to a map of nearby friends. They can also search for specific locations, such as schools or playgrounds, with the map displaying any public photos or videos sent by students, as pointed out by The Telegraph.
Multiple police forces and child protection services have warned parents to turn off Snap Map on their children’s phones. In the UK, Preston Police had this to say on the department’s Facebook page:
For all the snapchat users on here, in the last few days they have released a new update which connects to your GPS, and automatically (unless activated ghost mode) shows where you are on a map to anyone who is on your friends list and posts can possibly seen publically depending on your settings!!
…Obviously this may cause concern for certain users, particularly those who have young children who use the app.
The Telegraph quoted a spokesperson for the National Society for the Protection of Children:
It’s worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists.
With public accounts, this will include those who are not known to the user. This highlights why it’s vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks.
…and this is what the UK Safer Internet Centre had to say:
It is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time.
Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person.
As Preston Police noted, Ghost Mode keeps your location private.
How to turn on Ghost Mode
To change settings, open Snapchat and pinch the screen. That will load Snap Map. When you do it for the first time it should ask you if you want to activate ghost mode. If it doesn’t, click on the icon in the top right-hand corner, where you’ll be able to tick a box to turn on ghost mode, like so:
[Source: Naked Security]
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