Late last month, Snapchat, a social-sharing app wildly popular with teens and young adults, added the “Snap Maps” feature. This feature shares the user’s location with their friends on the app in real time.
“With the Snap Map, you can view Snaps of sporting events, celebrations, breaking news, and more from all across the world,” Snapchat says on its support page for the feature. “If you and a friend follow one another, you can share your locations with each other so you can see where they’re at and what’s going on around them! Plus, meeting up can be a cinch.”
But authorities say the feature also could be used by predators to easily find young victims.
“If a Snapchat user does NOT have the app set to appear in ‘Ghost Mode,’ all of the user’s friends can see the their location in real time,” the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. “So if a child happens to add a potential predator, bully, or other undesirable person to their friends list, they can be easily located.”
The release says that Sgt. Lenny Carr of the sheriff’s office’s Crimes Against Children division tested out the new feature and was able to locate himself within a few feet of his phone while at his office.
“The emphasis on potential danger is real,” the release said. “So, parents, if you are going to allow your children to use this potentially dangerous app, please ensure that it is used in Ghost Mode.”
How To Turn On ‘Ghost Mode’ On Snapchat
- Go to the Snapchat home page.
- Click on the cog symbol in the top-right corner to go to Settings.
- Switch “Ghost Mode” to enabled.
- In Settings, you may also go to “Who Can See My Location?” and limit the friends who can see your general location at any time.
The sheriff’s office advises that anyone younger than age 18 should be discouraged from using Snapchat.
Snapchat also provides some security tips on its Safety Center page. They include:
- Remember that anyone can take a screenshot of a Snap or simply use another camera to take a picture of a Snap that appears on their screen.
- Check your privacy settings to choose who can send you Snaps and view your Stories.
- If you experience harassment or bullying, block the person and report it to Snapchat.
- Keep your password safe. Don’t share your password with other people, applications or websites. Use a different password for every service you use.
Paulding County residents are encouraged to call the sheriff’s office’s Crimes Against Children division at 770-445-6105 with any concerns or questions.
Photo courtesy Paulding County Sheriff’s Office
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