(File photo)

Advocates warn parents about Snapchat map dangers

Worries abound that children could be tracked

Several child protection groups are warning that Snapchat’s new location-sharing feature could allow predators to more easily track young people.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the digital literacy group MediaSmarts are among the organizations raising concerns about “Snap Maps” – an opt-in feature that shares a user’s location on a map.

Experts say child predators who befriend young users could use the feature to figure out where they live, go to school, the route they walk every day, and eventually build up a picture of their routine.

The feature was included in a recent update to the social media app, which is especially popular with teens. It lets users send photos, videos, and messages that disappear after a set period of time.

RELATED: Tasteless Snapchat GIF removed

Users can select who can see where they are – whether that be all friends, a select group, or no one, also known as “Ghost Mode.”

Earlier this week, the Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued an alert through its Cybertip.ca program about Snap Maps, saying users may not realize it updates their location each time they open the app, even when they’re not sharing stories.

The group also urges parents to talk to their kids about keeping their location private and ensuring their “friends” on Snapchat – and all social media– are people they have met in person.

Thierry Plante of the Ottawa-based MediaSmarts points to the “troubling consequences” of allowing others to know your location.

“It becomes a very useful tracking tool for somebody who has other intentions,” says Plante.

“Parents do need to be very present in the digital lives of their children and have the conversation about how to use that feature, whether or not that feature is something they should be using or not, and then together … if you have decided to use it, how to set the feature in a way to minimize that risk.”

Childnet International also released a statement about the feature last week.

“Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat – giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map – we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person,” the group said in a statement.

A Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement that “the safety of our community is very important to us” and stressed that using Snap Map “is completely optional.”

“Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time. It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends,” reads the statement.

Snapchat has an online parents guide offering tips on keeping teens safe while using the app, as well as an online “safety center” where anyone can report a safety concern.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bicycle incident on Daimer Drive in West Kelowna

One man has been taken to hospital

Kikinee Salmon Festival returns to Kelowna for another year

The Kikinee Salmon Festival is taking place this Sunday at Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna.

Bulls on parade down Glenmore

A small bull ran into traffic on Glenmore Road in Kelowna earlier this morning

City of Kelowna to host public engagement sessions on future planning

The city is taking feedback on the direction of the OCP, the TMP and the 20-year Servicing Plan

Kelowna’s first-ever fringe festival starts Thursday

The international festival will host 12 different acts over three days

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

North Okanagan’s own CSI digging into crime mysteries

Forensic Identification Section a specialized support unit used in various cases

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Craft breweries showcased during Penticton Beer Week

To celebrate, all seven of the city’s breweries will be collaborating on a limited release draft

Homeless man arrested after assaulting Vernon race volunteer

Course markers behind incident in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park race

Death race runners to artists, South Okanagan speaker series has it all

The Pecha Kucha Penticton series returns with the theme of: We Made It

Sagmoen’s in-custody statements under judge’s scrutiny

Sagmoen’s lawyer said statements made by him while in police custody were not provided voluntarily

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Most Read