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Mercedes Oliveira

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Snap Map: is it putting people at risk?
July 20, 2017

Snap Map

In June, Snapchat released it’s latest update – Snap Map – and it was billed as a “new way to explore the world. See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!”

It gives users an insight into communities they might not see otherwise. You can transport yourself anywhere in the world and see what’s going on.

How does it work?
By pinching your screen, a map is revealed, showing you the location of your friends. Snap Map allows you to zoom right in and see exactly where they are, down to the street they’re in, the station platform they’re standing on or the school they’re attending.

But is Snap Map putting users in danger?
But this has caused outrage amongst many parents. The NSPCC Child Safety Online team has expressed concerns about Snapchat encouraging users to share their location, especially given that the minimum (legal) age to use the app is just 13.

Snap told the BBC that accurate location information was necessary to “allow friends to use the service to meet, for example at a restaurant or crowded festival,” and said that “points of interest on the map, such as schools, were provided by third-party mapping service Mapbox.”

Ghost Mode default
It was also keen to point out that location is off (ghost mode) by default for all users and is completely optional. They highlighted the fact that it wasn’t possible to ‘share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat.’

But that doesn’t stop young people from adding people they have never met to their friends list – and therein lies the problem.

What can I do as a parent?
The best thing you can do is to talk to your children and make sure they understand who can see their location on Snap Maps. Speak to them about what they do online, who they share their location with and discuss ways they can keep themselves safe, such as only accepting people they know as friends and turning on ghost mode.

How to switch off location-sharing and go onto Ghost Mode

  • When in photo-taking mode, pinch the screen to open Snap Map
  • Touch the settings cog in the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap “Ghost Mode” to switch off location sharing
  • Photos and videos posted to Snapchat’s public ‘Our Story’ will still be discoverable on the map


What do you think? Is Snap Maps going to revolutionise the way we connect on social media or is it potentially putting its users in danger?

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