Snapchat’s in the middle of a big child protection row after releasing a map function that shows people where you are and what you’re doing.
Snap Maps were introduced last month. The feature allows people to see where their contacts, or friends, are - even down to within a matter of metres. It also shows what exactly what they are doing, whether that is on a plane, sitting down, or at school.
This video of Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha discussing Snap Maps with her 14 year old daughter has gone viral. The pair voiced concerns that Snap Maps goes too far with the new ‘Stalk Your Friends’ call to action. They also say the function was automatically enabled without notifying users that it had gone live.
(Not having logged on to my Snapchat for a while, I tapped the app and didn’t see any notification on my phone. When I went into Settings, I found that the maps function was already switched on as default. THIS MAKES ME FEEL WEIRD. It’s like FourSquare met Tinder met Pokemon Go).
So, has Snapchat just made stalking easier? Can strangers pinpoint exactly where our kids are at any time? Even young people are worried about the consequences, describing it on Twitter as ‘creepy’. The NSPCC' NetAware says Snap Maps could put children in danger and the police have described Snapchat as a ‘tempting place for groomers’, adding that the new map function allows paedophiles to browse and see where children are. Schools are warning parents to disable the app.
Anyone can disable Snaps Maps by going into Ghost Mode. Here’s how.
If you’re a parent or carer, you can learn more about Snapchat with this guide from CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Of course, Twitter is buzzing about other ways the Snap Map function can be a blessing, as well as a curse. It’s good news for journalists seeking real time news. Advertisers are rubbing their hands. And it makes your Bitmoji look cute.
But it seems it’s not just kids at risk of falling foul of Snap Maps. Maybe you are bunking off work. Maybe you are leading a double life. Maybe you’re trying to ignore your friends.
Whatever your views, it seems Snapchat has put a foot wrong and misjudged public mood on the issue of real time tracking. This is sure to be one of their features that Facebook won’t be copying.