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Snapchat have allowed users to choose who is able to see their location. This allows the people who follow you on Snapchat to see your location if you choose to allow them to see it. Even then, it’s the location you were in the last time you accessed the app, not your current location all the time. It’s a simple matter of providing the information in advance to allow your users the choice at the time of their update. If Snap had managed the message effectively then users would have had the ability to understand the positives and negatives and decide for themselves at that point, and there would have been few if any issues. Have you heard of a girl who went missing recently and was found via the ‘stalker mode’, it may be intrusive however has proved life saving. Most kids will however not use the ‘Ghost Mode’ and are opening themselves up to bullies taking their cruelty to the next level, as well as predators on the Internet finding them. For those Gossip Girl fans out there, this is EXACTLY like the “Spotted” map in the show (which ended in 2012). They were ahead of their time. That said, we think this is beyond stupid and unsafe. There is something very unnatural about keeping tabs on someone else 24/7.

Related: Snapchat Fails to Generate Value

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Is this Snapchat Stalker Mode opt in or opt out?

Perhaps parents should take more responsibility for their children. Instead of turning them loose with the latest internet connected gadget and thinking it’s someone else’s job to keep them “safe”. However the point here is that Snap didn’t alert people to the exposure they would have, before the update was implemented. And it was an automatic update! The update which came with this feature comes enabled rather than disabled. So, as easy as it is to switch off, you need to have realised it’s there to do so. This option to the phone should have been under more in-depth discussion before being released and able to have on our phones. Especially if customers are saying the app is on when it was supposed to be off. Snapchat isn’t aimed at kids, although we understand why kids want it on their devices. This then raises the question, if you believe your children are old enough to own a smart phone then you are at fault and it falls under your judgement to let them have access to these types of apps, that’s inclusive of other social media platforms not just Snapchat.  You can select for everyone on your friend list to see your location, select specific friends to see your locations or ‘ghost mode’ in which only yourself can see your location.

Related: Snapchat becoming Social Media Noise

Solution: don’t buy your child a smart phone

Snapchat has given you the ability to turn off the implementation with “ghost mode”. The system doesn’t allow anyone in your location to see you but only your friends. Yes it is…. for the majority of users within her youth population do not understand the implications. We believe this comes down the parent in question. If they’re going to get annoyed when these types of new feature are added then they should remove it from their children’s phones. It’s that simple. Sharing information we believe to be private with the whole world is a direction parents really hope social media stops moving towards. It would be a nice idea in a child friendly world but this is the wrong time for such technology to involve the vulnerable of our societies, unfortunately there are predators just waiting for opportunities such as this. Yes, new features always come looking and sounding “safe” and “fun”. But are fun stuff getting you compromised? A reminder to check in detail what your apps are really doing, and in this case, snapchat + snapmap.

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Snapchat update sense-checked with a decent cross section of society first?

Very surprising that such a powerful feature would be deployed with very little notice to its users.  The issue here is not in sharing your whereabouts with strangers, it is in adding them as friends in the first place and giving them access to your information, be it on any social media platform. To let your real friends know about your location/activity shouldn’t be a problem, especially when it’s an option. And as far as ‘stalking’ is concerned, even a feature such as ‘last seen at’ on WhatsApp qualifies for one. Scaremongering at its best once again. Firstly, question if your child is old enough to have Snapchat. Secondly, if they are, the likelihood is those they have on Snapchat are probably their friends. The level of hostility aimed towards Snapchat is ridiculous, considering that Facebook has the “Friends Nearby” feature and it has not received any visible criticism. We live in a digital world and to punish the app creators for introducing what we think is a very clever feature is totally unfair. Snap is incredibly popular with teenagers in particular and we think they really should have more closely considered the implications of releasing Snap Maps before they went ahead.

Related: Pakistani Social Media Guide 2017

One’s privacy is always in one’s own hands

This is incredibly dangerous especially considering that under 25’s tend to think they’re bullet proof – ‘that won’t happen to me’, ‘I trust my friends’. How many young people do you know who will accept friend requests from people they haven’t met IRL? No doubt this feature has data value for marketing purposes. Knowing what sorts of things you do recreationally, where you spend your money etc is gold. Didn’t Tinder have something similar? NEVER share personal things on the web. Publish only things on the web you would also publish in an open letter. The feature puts our children at risk and is irresponsible for Snapchat to have introduced, given their target audience. Of course it can be disabled, but one has to know that it is there and needs to be switched off. Ultimately this will all be about advertising and income generation for SnapChat, so let’s see whether they will respond to the negative feed-back and remove the feature… This feature presents a two-way street. First things first, your child should select friends that wouldn’t use this against them, not meet new friends online. The same feature that presents an obvious danger could help YOU track them down if kidnapped. Finally, with any new technology, there’s only a matter of time before it’s hacked or glitches. Stop arguing about settings, and focus on hard-hitting issues.

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Snap is actually a 12+ app on the App Store which means that it is supposed to be suitable for kids. Given that Snap started out as a ‘Skin Pics’ app for young people where the pictures would disappear after a few seconds, then as parents, we should be suspicious of the new maps functionality. If Snap was made 18+, this would be the most sensible solution. Kids aged 12-18 need to be protected from themselves and Snapchat is doing the parents no favours at all. It is on the end-user and if that end-user happens to be a child, then the responsibility falls on the parent. Children are not the only users/customers. “Child proofing” something not explicitly designed for children is not fair to adult customers or business owners. There is an opt in/out feature. Read the instructions carefully and act responsibly. You as users will find that friends of your friends can also see your where you are via Snap Maps and hence you cannot control who sees your location. Will you be disappointed if the technology and innovation is shutdown as people are to sensitive to the idea? Leave comments.

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