Safety Experts Raise Red Flag on Snapchat's Newest Feature

New map function tracks location whenever the app is activated
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2017 3:20 PM CDT
Safety Experts Raise Red Flag on Snapchat's Newest Feature
Snapchat's new feature, Snap Map, was released on June 21.   (Snapchat)

A new Snapchat geolocation function released last week may be dishing out more personal information than users were counting on. The company announced Wednesday that once activated, Snap Map places a location Bitmoji on the new map feature for anyone on a user’s friends list to see. But according to the Verge, locations update whenever the app is opened, meaning friends can track users’ whereabouts more often than they may realize. Writer Dani Deahl tested out how much information she could gather via the map by observing a friend’s Bitmoji. Within minutes, she was able to guess her friend’s address, which she hadn’t previously known. “That’s so creepy!” her friend said after Deahl called to confirm the address, adding, “I wouldn’t want people to see where I am at all times.”

The map function is opt-in and users can go into a “ghost mode” to turn it off, but a social media expert told ABC 15 that parents should make sure their children understand how it all works: “It's OK to pretend that you don’t understand, even if you might understand a little bit, get them to explain it to you to make sure they understand.” Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that police in the UK have already issued warnings to parents on the dangers of location sharing, echoed by UK Safer Internet Centre, which cautions that the new feature "can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school, and spend your time.” The Verge writes that to opt out, new Snapchat users should choose ghost mode, and those who already opted in can switch to ghost mode in the map's settings to disable the location feature. (More Snapchat stories.)

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