Urgent – Advice for Snapchat Users.June 25, 2017 12:20 pm
THis is a message received from on of our parents. We thought that you need to know about this if you are a Snapchat users.
Instant messaging app Snapchat has launched a new feature this week called SnapMap. SnapMap shows the precise location (down to street level) of its users when they use the app to post videos or photos from their mobile phone. This update, launched on 22nd June 2017 will be enabled on all devices when an update is performed. Many devices are set to update apps automatically, so many of our children may already be using this feature.
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is an instant messaging app that allows smartphone users to send photos to other users that are automatically deleted after a set time interval of between 3 and 10 seconds. Users can also share videos or ‘stories’ which stay online for up to 24 hours. Despite the seemingly ‘temporary’ nature of these images, other apps allow images to be saved on devices without the sender’s knowledge.
What does the new SnapMap feature do?
Unless location sharing is disabled (see below) when a user posts a new image, video or story on Snapchat, their location is displayed on a map in the form of an avatar or ‘actionmoji’. Zooming in on the map shows the precise location of the user, including the street address and any landmarks associated with their location, for example a fast food outlet, cinema or bowling alley. Tapping on a user’s avatar enables users to chat one-to-one.
What privacy settings are available?
Users can choose to share their location with all of their friends or specific friends only. Another mode, known as ‘Ghost Mode’ enables users to see their friends on the map without sharing their own location. The SnapMap feature introduces a new option entitled ‘our story’. Users posting using this setting may unwittingly share their image or video, along with their location, to all Snapchat users.
Why is this new feature so concerning?
According to research carried out for Safer Internet Day 2017:
· two-thirds of 8 to 17 year olds say that they have shared an image or video with someone that they only know online;
· 21% of 8 to 12 year olds, and 40% of teens have sent images that they wouldn’t want their parents or carers to see;
· Over half of 8 to 17 year olds have published images and videos on public social media platforms with no privacy settings in place; and
· 23% of 8 to 17 year olds don’t know how to use privacy settings to control who sees what they post online.
Whenever young people share images or videos of themselves on Snapchat and other location-based apps, especially where they have strangers on their friends list, there is a risk that the child’s location will become known to those with a sinister intent. Of particular concern is ‘Ghost mode’ which can mean that someone is tracking your child’s location without revealing their own, increasing the risk of seemingly ‘chance’ encounters that are anything but random. ‘Our Story’ is also worrisome, as young people may not realise that using this setting could reveal their location to every other snapchat user globally.
How can this feature be disabled?
· Use ‘Ghost Mode’ to prevent your location being shared; or
· Turn off ‘Location Services’ in your handset settings. (Android – Settings >>Location>>Off. iPhone – Settings>>Privacy>>Location>>Off)
Snapchat Age Limits
Like most social networks, Snapchat’s terms and conditions state that users must be over the age of 13. That said, there is no age verification in place and it is easy for underage users to sign up to the service and approximately half of 8-12 year olds are thought to have underage social networking accounts. Underage accounts can be reported to Snapchat via email to email@example.com
Screenshot of new SnapMap feature