The popular social media Snapchat recently launched a new feature that shares users' locations in real time.
The feature "connects with Global Positioning System and automatically (unless activated ghost mode) shows where you are on a map to anyone who is on your friends list and posts can possibly seen publically depending on your settings!"
Noticing that the new feature could be used for stalking, Police authorities in United Kingdom have warned parent's to turn off "Snap Map" on their children's phone.
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In a statement posted on its blog, child safety group Childnet International said: "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".
A user's location is updated every time Snapchat is opened. "Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time". When you've opened the map, you'll see "ActionMoji" - cartoon avatars - of your friends.
This avatar changes as Snapchat monitors the speed of users' movements, for example by updating to reflect the fact they're travelling in a vehicle.
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"With Snap Map, location-sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional".
So far, no incidents were reported as a result of using Snapchat's Snap Map; however, parents can protect their child and hide their location by turning on "Ghost Mode".
A spokesperson for the National Society for the Protection of Children found it worrying that the app's latest feature allows children and teens under 18 years old to "broadcast their location on the app where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contacts lists". Public Snapchat accounts, such as Good Morning America, will also appear on the map. Just tap the small gear icon in the top-right corner of the Map screen and set the phone to "Ghost Mode".
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