The NSPCC is warning children and parents about the potential risks of Snap Map, Snapchat’s controversial new feature.
The charity has drawn attention to a recent survey saying that over a third of young people have added a stranger online in the last six months, and says Snap Map could leave children vulnerable to stalking, grooming and bullying.
The new Snapchat feature allows other people to see exactly where you are in real time, on an interactive map detailed enough to show not only what street you’re on, but also whereabouts on that street you are.
You can choose to share your location with all of your friends, a selection of them, or none of them with ‘Ghost Mode’, which is enabled by default.
However, Snap Map has still attracted a lot of criticism.
“Even limiting Snap Maps to the ‘friends only’ setting is risky if those contacts include people you don’t know,” said NSPCC child safety online expert Rose Bray.
“This highlights why it’s vital government forces social networks to offer Safe Accounts to under 18s, with the highest privacy settings and location settings locked off.
“Young people can hide their location using Ghost Mode, which can be switched on from the Snap Maps screen. It’s important parents have regular conversations with young people about staying safe online, and making sure that they know how to protect their privacy.”
According to research from Netaware, 36 per cent of young people have added someone they don’t know on any site they use in the last six months.
The study was based on 1,696 responses from children and young people in December 2016 and January 2017.
The NSPCC believes that social media platforms should be required by law to offer extra protections to under-18s, including high privacy settings, where location-sharing is always off, and greater controls over who can connect with them.