The Winchester Police Department is alerting area parents about a new Snapchat location feature unveiled last month. The new feature known as “Snap Map” tracks the user’s current location and places an avatar (i.e. a small caricature/icon that represents the individual) on a map.
The Snap Map feature can pinpoint the user’s exact location where the user made their last post. More importantly, anyone can access that information whether they are friends with the user or not–unless, the settings have been changed to limit how location information is shared. The setting options include “Only Me (Ghost Mode),” “My Friends,” and “Select Friends.”
The Winchester Police Department recommends that parents and guardians make sure that any minor children using Snapchat use the Snap Map feature in Ghost Mode.
Below is step-by-step instructions for entering Ghost Mode:
- Open the Snapchat app on your smartphone.
- If you’re opening Snapchat for the first time after the update, you are automatically prompted to go step-by-step setting your preference (Only Me/Ghost Mode, My Friends, or Selects Friends).
- If the app was previously opened after the update, you will not be prompted and you will need to open Snap Map using Steps 2-6 below.
- Open the Snapchat app. Your camera feature should automatically open. If not, open chat and launch your camera. You should see whatever you are pointing your phone’s camera at on the screen.
- In the middle of the screen, pinch your thumb and index finger, closing them together. This opens the Snap Map and you will see your avatar (icon) located on the map.
- Click on Settings (wheel-looking icon in the top) to open your Settings menu for location sharing.
- Turn on Ghost Mode.
- Close the Snapchat app.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, location-based services can be “one of the most dangerous features provided by social networking sites” because it increases the user’s vulnerability by allowing predators to track their movements and potentially determine if they are alone or not. Snapchat is not the only social media that provides location services which is why the Winchester Police Department also recommends that parents know who their child’s friends are on all their social media accounts and check each account’s settings often to make sure they are using social media safely.