A number of local police and fire departments are warning parents of a new feature on the Snapchat social networking app that allows users, including children, to share their exact locations with others on the mobile phone app.
The Snap Map feature is automatically included in the latest update of Snapchat, and it allows users to view the locations of their “friends” while they are active on the app. The feature also includes the ability for users to share their photos and videos publicly, even if their profiles are otherwise private.
A Massachusetts State Police trooper has also issued a warning.
“I’d recommend talking to your children about the concerns with sharing their location with strangers. They can choose to share only with friends or with no one at all,” said Trooper Dustin Fitch.
The Snap Map’s tracking capability can be disabled by activating “Ghost Mode.”
Here is how to enable “Ghost Mode” and disable pinpoint GPS tracking:
- Pinch the screen on the main camera portion of the app.
- Once the map is activated, click on the icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen
- Press the slider next to the “Ghost Mode” label at the top of the menu
If left active, the Snap Map will pinpoint and display a user’s location whenever they are actively using the app, and will also display a person’s most recent known location.
The warning came in a rare joint announcement from West Newbury Police Chief Arthur Reed, West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer, Salisbury Police Chief Thomas W. Fowler, Salisbury Fire Chief Richard Souliotis, Newburyport City Marshal Mark Murray, Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire, Newbury Police Chief Michael A. Reilly, Newbury Fire Chief Douglas Janvrin, Merrimac Police Chief Eric M. Shears, Merrimac Fire Chief Ralph Spencer, Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen, Groveland Fire Chief Robert Lay, Georgetown Police Chief Donald C. Cudmore and Georgetown Fire Chief Fred Mitchell.