Snapchat’s newest update, Snap Map, is causing widespread panic thanks to its functionality which allows users to share their exact location with those on their friends’ list.
For anyone unfamiliar with it, Snap Map uses geolocation to find your friends and show your location on a map, via a little cartoony emoji. As you move around your emoji does too and anyone submitting a snap to Snapchat’s curated content team, ‘our story’ could potentially be visible, not just to friends but also to strangers.
While the update itself may not sound too intrusive, especially when compared to checking in on Facebook or adding a location on Instagram, Snapchat’s inability to confirm how the function works and whether users could be sharing their exact, real-time location which strangers, is raising alarm bells with parents.
A popular channel with teens and tweens, Snapchat is renowned for its quirky filters and short expiration of videos, images and chats. Now, media, parents and even child-safety charities are calling for tighter guidance on how to protect youngsters from potential predators.
The NSPCC has pulled together a Snap Map safety tips guide, which gives advice on the ghost mode functionality to help hide users’ locations. While actress Nadia Sawahla, has commenced her own social media crusade, via a YouTube clip which has gone viral.
The Loose Women presenter, asks her daughter Maddie for an overview of Snap Map and then shows her shock as her 14-year-old explains about the new feature, colloquially called ‘stalk your friends’.
Known for continually reinventing itself and adding new features, this isn’t the first-time Snapchat has been blasted by parents. In 2016, a lawsuit was filed against the app after its ‘discover’ feature, which allows users to see different channels and trending content, served age-inappropriate news to minors.
While social media can be fun and engaging for users of all ages, this latest update is a warning to us all on its potential dark side. For parents, having ground rules in place with your children and being vigilant of their use is essential, while using parental hubs, blogs and news sites, will be helpful to navigate the minefield of social media dos and don’ts.