Sometimes it feels like a full-time job to protect our kids from online predators. So the last thing we need is technology that makes work even harder†
But a new feature in the Snapchat app that lets users see their friends’ exact location, down to house number, and even provide directions, is worrying parents and cybersecurity experts.
Snapchat is a form of social media which allows users to share instant messages and photos with their friends. The app also has a controversial Snap Map feature that lets you share your location with your friends via a map, which even shows an aerial view of the location.
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You can choose to share your location with all your friends, a selection of friends, or none of your friends in the app’s ‘My Location’ feature.
But parents and security experts are concerned about a new feature because it could show a user’s precise location, rather than general area, and “literally show you where you sleep at night,” according to one cybersecurity organization.
It also allows people to calculate how long it takes to reach someone else’s location.
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“Although the Snap Map has been around for years, the feature to ‘enable precise location’ is new. The app used to share the approximate location and now it is accurate to about a meter, if not less.
“The changes that worry me a lot are how they’ve updated how they display data for certain products; for example, how recent locations on the map can be shown to your friends, literally showing you where you sleep at night.
“How they will share how close you are to your friends on Snapchat based on your interactions with them. (Remember being a teenager and the need to be liked by everyone? This can affect mental health of young people).
The post also urged people to “check out the images I’ve shared below to get an idea of what you’re dealing with.”
“‘My location’, prompting me to enable a precise location. ‘My exact location’ when you zoom in in high resolution.
“Oh, and those blue dots on the map are a heat map and yes, I was just shown clicking on them and zooming in on the precise location of a little boy, well under the age of 13, dancing at less than five miles from my house and I can see his exact address It was obviously filmed by a parent in their bedroom.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to secure the ‘Map’ feature.”
Safe on Social, which runs programs to educate parents about cybersecurity, said parents should arm themselves with knowledge.
“It’s 2022 as far as I’m concerned parents no longer have the ‘I don’t use Snapchat’ excuse. You need to get your head around it right now. Not to stop your kids from using it, but to teach them how to make it better.” so you know what to do if something goes wrong.
“You gave them their devices, you allowed the apps. You effectively gave them the keys to the car and let them drive off the highway without a lesson.”
Parents are urged to protect their kids’ safety in the Snapchat app by asking kids to turn on the “ghost mode” feature, which hides your location.
You can also choose to disable “precise location” in your iPhone settings.
Snapchat previously said the card was developed with privacy and security in mind.
“Snap Map location sharing is disabled by default and Snapchatters who decide to share their location on the map can only see and be seen by mutual friends,” a spokesperson said.
A new paid subscription service, Snapchat+, allows users to see every place their friends have been in the past 24 hours.
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