Snapchat’s newest addition to it’s offerings is SnapMap. This feature shares your location on a map so that other’s can see snaps from similar places or events in real time. This all sounds well and good but what’s really happening is causing tech experts everywhere to warn against using SnapMap. SnapMap shares your location every time you open the app, not just when you post something. This isn’t concerning for just tech safety writers like myself but everyone who spends any time learning about the latest Tech trends is warning that users should disable this feature on their SnapChat account.
I heard a story last week of a mother who’s daughter and her group of friends had been targeted by a sex trafficking ring using snapchat. The predator befriended a large group of related friends all at the same time and just watched their posts for a while. They all thought they were befriending someone who went to school with them since they had a bunch of friends in common. This person got very close to my friend’s daughter and started talking about a meet-up. Mom saw the posts during a check-in of her daughter’s phone and decided this “friend” was a bit shady. She contacted the police and found out that this predator was part of a larger ring of sex traffickers who use Snapchat to locate and abduct their victims. These guys had to work for months to learn more about where these teens spent their time. The SnapMap would give them that information in seconds.
SnapMap’s initial setup is only a four step process, if you decide to turn on SnapMap you won’t be warned that your location will always be available. You’ll only be told how your friends can see where you are when you post. If you aren’t sure who all of your friends are and if you don’t know that SnapMap is pinging your location every time you open the app whether you post or not, you’re eliminating every privacy setting you’ve ever set on your phone. Your teenagers don’t know this!
What Parents Should Know
Teenager’s brains are developing in such a way that they’ll always fire before they aim. They’ll see the SnapMap option and opt-in just because they want to have everything set up like their friends do. You MUST talk to your kids about what SnapMap is and why it’s dangerous. You’ll want to advise (or demand) them to put their SnapMap on “GhostMode” which will hide their location on their friend’s map. If you’re allowing them to use Snapchat (which is on my uninstall list) you can’t expect them to see the SnapMap for the red flag that it is. You have to protect them by setting that boundary on their behalf.
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