Concerns raised about Snapchat’s new ‘Snap Maps’ feature
Snapchat has just launched "Snap Maps" which allows you to show your location, see your friends’ on a map as well seeing snaps from places around the world.
Snapchat released the update saying ‘We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!"
In the words of Jack Brody, product designer at Snap, the feature "isn’t about where am I, it’s about where are my friends and what are they up to?"
But many people have raised privacy and safety concerns about the new feature — particularly for teenagers, as the app allows people — potential strangers — to possibly track and stalk others:
This new snap map feature is quite interesting. Snapchat straight up broke into your privacy You’ll know who’s at a bar before you even go😂 pic.twitter.com/y87jC5TkVc
YouTuber Bella Santos warned followers about the potential danger of the app:
THE NEW SNAPCHAT UPDATE LETS YOU SEE THE EXACT LOCATION OF PEOPLE…like literal addresses! Please turn it to ghost mode, this is not safe!! pic.twitter.com/ra54TpqwcH
— bella (@BellasSpot) June 22, 2017
Others expressed concern about their privacy:
The app has a ghost mode available for users, who can turn off their location to make sure nobody can track them. However, those who turn on ghost mode can still track others and see their location.
Law enforcement and schools are starting to give advice to teenagers using Snapchat in the UK.
A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) described the possibility that under 18’s will broadcast their location on the app as "worrying" as it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists, including those not known to the user.
"This highlights why its vital children are automatically offered safer accounts on social media to ensure they are protected from unnecessary risks," the spokesman told Mashable.
"Young people can hide their location using Ghost Mode, which can be switched on from the camera screen," he added. "It’s important that parents have regular conversations with young people about staying safe online, and making sure that they know how to protect their privacy."
St Peter’s Academy, an Anglican secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent, gave some (inaccurate) advice on Facebook:
Misinformed by the school’s Facebook post above, parents have been commenting that they couldn’t find the Ghost mode and tagged their sons/daughters to inform them.
Mashable contact Staffordshire Police who explained that the technical tips actually came from the UK Safer Internet Centre.
How location sharing on Snap Maps actually works:
The assertion that the location device "is automatically enabled" is incorrect.
Location-sharing with friends is turned off by default and optional — you choose to opt in and nothing happens without your consent. The first time you open Snapchat you’ll be taken through an onboarding user-flow, where you can choose who you’d like to share your location with.
"You need to choose to add friends, you need to opt in to make yourself visible on Snap Map, you need to select the friends you have first approved so they can see you on Snap Map, you need to opt in to post to Our Story and choose to make your Snaps visible," a Snapchat spokesperson told Mashable.