West Yorkshire Police have warned parents about the potential dangers of Snapchat’s new location-sharing feature Snap Map.
The optional upgrade allows users to share their precise location with Snapchat friends while, at the same time, tracking their friends’ movements on a real-time map.
But Det Chief Insp Vanessa Smith from West Yorkshire Police’s Cyber Crime Team has joined police forces and child protection charities around the country in highlighting the potential risks this feature could pose to children.
She said: “Unfortunately, there are people who will exploit this information which may lead to children being traced by strangers. I would always discourage children from sharing personal information about themselves on line, in particular their exact location.”
When Snap Maps is first downloaded users are asked if they want to make their location available to all their contacts, just to selected contacts or to no-one. This last option is called “ghost mode”.
Users who are not in “ghost mode” can be pinpointed on the map to an exact address or precise location on a street. If a user is driving at the time their avatar will be shown travelling in a car.
Snapchat, which is particularly popular with teenagers, said that the safety of their customers was very important to them and stressed the feature was “opt-in” and could be disabled at any time.
Children may not be aware of the possible dangers though and it could be difficult for parents to monitor their child’s Snapchat settings at all times.
Det Chief Insp Smith recommended parents talk to children about the Snap Map feature.
She added: “We would always urge parents to talk to their children about who they are communicating with on social media and it is important to remind them of the importance of not speaking to or accepting friend requests from people they don’t know in real life.”
Further advice about staying safe online and keeping your children safe online is available on the West Yorkshire Police website: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/who-are-you-really-talking/how-stay-safe-online