(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

Multi-vehicle collision slows Highway 97 in Kelowna

Two-car crash slows traffic to a crawl near University Way

West Kelowna Warriors search financial partners

Coummunity investements would allow reinvestments into the Warriors programs

Kelowna paddle board event to raise cash for brain injuries

Fifth annual Pihl Law Paddle for Prevention for BrainTrust comes to lake this August

Lightning strike sparks fire off Highway 33

BC Wildfire is reporting a small blaze outside Kelowna

UBCO and Okanagan College team up for green construction centre

UBCO and Okanagan College will create a Green Construction Research and Training Centre

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler sibblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The Siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Penticton resident’s dog allegedly stolen from construction site

Nicholas Bozak is seeking the public’s assistance in locating Askem, his 17 month old mastiff chow

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

RDOS construction activity shows increase

264 permits, worth nearly $26M, have been issued in first half of 2019

Snowbirds touch down in the South Okanagan

Canadian Forces Snowbirds make pit stop in Penticton

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Okanagan property altercation results in pair of arrests

Vernon RCMP called to 4300 block of 32nd Street Wednesday afternoon; two people taken into custody

Most Read