New Snapchat Feature Raises Privacy Concerns

  
     
July 04, 2017

The wildly popular smartphone app, Snapchat, has added a new feature called Snap Map that allows users to see other user's locations. But is this a good idea? Not everyone thinks so. 

What is Snap Map?

The Snap Map allows users to view snapshots of their friend's activities along with their location.

If two users follow each other, they can share their locations and see where the other is and what they are doing. According to Snapchat, the idea is users can stay up to date with their friend’s lives and meet up easily.

However, parents and child safety advocate groups around the world are concerned about online predators befriending kids and potentially knowing where they live and what route they may take to get to school.

Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued an alert through its Cybertip.ca program about Snap Maps, saying users may not realize it updates their location each time they open the app, even when they’re not sharing stories.

The group also urges parents to talk to their kids about keeping their location private and ensuring their “friends” on Snapchat — and all social media — are people they have met in person. The Toronto Star (June 29/2017)

The school system in the UK issued a warning to families about their concerns for potential stalkers taking advantage of the new feature. 

Snapchat insists that the Snap Map is completely optional for the user and that public safety is very important to them. The new feature does offer what is called 'Ghost Mode' which would prevent others from seeing their location, another setting allows the user's entire contact list to see where they are.

For safety tips on the new Snapchat feature go here.

BBB offers further tips for parents when guiding children through the online world.

Bullying and harassment – This is most likely to occur through social networking sites or through email or text messages. It’s important to listen to your children and encourage them to discuss their fears and feelings about such incidents. The online safety website SafeKids.com has a page of resources to help you deal with cyberbullying.

Reputation-harming online posts – Children may not understand that “online is forever.” Posts can haunt them at some point in the future and may be saved by someone, even after it has been deleted. Be sure your kids understand this, especially as it applies to photographs. Take the time to use a search engine to check up on what has been posted by or about your child.

Phishing attempts and identity theft – Help your children understand that emails requesting passwords and usernames may be fake, even though they look legitimate. Remind children to never click on links in such emails. Explain to them that passwords should be shared with no one except for you, and make sure your devices’ operating systems and security software are kept up to date.

Inappropriate content – Children can easily stumble upon material that is sexual, violent or illustrates illegal activity. Safekids.com also has information for parents who discover that their children have been viewing inappropriate material online.

Online stalkers/predators – Though such incidents make newspaper headlines, the risk of a child or teen being harmed by someone they met online is considered to be low. Nevertheless, common-sense rules always apply. Any communication your child has with an unknown person online that veers into subjects which are not appropriate or include physical details should be ended at once and reported to you. Call your local police department if you suspect your child has been contacted improperly or by an unsuitable party.