Snapchat’s ‘Snap Map’ a worry for some parents


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Parents already worried about their children’s social media use now have another item to add to the list of concerns.

Snapchat has a new feature called Snap Map which shares a user’s location with their friends when enabled. The app uses a phone’s GPS data to pinpoint their location on a map, and even shares information about their activities.

“It gets a little creepy, because you can see exactly what someone’s doing,” Snap Map user Jacey Monahan said.

“If they’re listening to music and they have their headphones in, their (Snap Map character) is going to have headphones on their head. If they’re driving in their car, they’re going to have a car (cartoon). If they’re flying, they’re (shown) in a plane.”

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Monahan said her friend’s “Bitmoji” characters appear in swimsuits if they are at a pool, and she even saw someone on her map sitting next to luggage when that friend was at an airport.

However, he North Carolina State University junior said she only shares her location with friends, and doesn’t worry about the app’s use for any nefarious means.

Tamika Banks will not let her teenage daughters install Snapchat on their phones, and the map feature is an additional reason against the application.

“A big part of my concern with that is that a lot of times kids are sitting at home using their phones, so if it’s tracking them, then everybody’s gonna know where they live,” Banks said.

“Being out and about, that’s one thing, but just sitting home, seeing your exact address to your home, that’s pretty scary.”

The application doesn’t identify house numbers, but it shows street names and is rather precise.

Snap Map is an optional feature.

Users have to give Snapchat permission to access their location, and then they can choose whether to be visible to all of their contacts, a selected set of friends, or enter Ghost Mode which keeps their location hidden while still being able to view others’.

“I pick who can look at it, because there’s definitely some people in my Snapchat that I’m just not interested in them knowing where I am,” Lucy Kratz said.

Tamika Banks’s teenage daughter Brielle said she has no interest in the risk of adding that access.

“What if an adult wants to use Snapchat and he wants to see where kids are, at anywhere, and just get on them,” she said.

Another issue mentioned by several teens involved friendship securities rather than safety concerns. They said they don’t want to see a bunch of friends hanging out together without them, and realizing they weren’t invited.

While Ghost Mode makes users invisible, it does not actually turn of Snapchat’s tracker. That requires going through a smartphone’s overall settings menu.

With two fingers touching the screen, move them together in a pinching motion to open Snap Map. To activate Ghost mode, tap on the upper right corner of the screen to access Setting.

To disable location tracking through Snap Maps, you will have to make changes through your phone’s Settings menu.

On an iPhone, go to Privacy, then Location Services, and find the Snapchat application. Change the selection from “While Using the App” to “Never”.

On an Android, go to Application manager, find the Snapchat application, and edit the Permissions.

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