Snapchat’s latest update has parents and police concerned about the safety of young children. The location-following “Snap Map” uses GPS technology to show the exact whereabouts of Snapchat users, a feature that raises privacy and security issues.

Police across the nation have begun warning parents about the potential pitfalls of their children using the Snap Map.

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“It should cause some concern for those of you that have children using Snapchat,” Massachusetts State Police spokesman Dustin Fitch wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “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.”

unnamed Snapchat's Snap Map is raising security concerns among police and parents. Photo: International Business Times

Snapchat heralded the feature as a “whole new way to explore the world,” stating that it allows users to view nearby events and “get inspired to go on an adventure.” Some privacy concerns lie in the fact that Snapchat hadn’t disclosed the full extent of its location services in the map: any time a user opens the app, their location is broadcast, not merely just when a photo is posted.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children issued a statement earlier in June following the update’s unveiling.

“It is worrying that Snapchat is allowing under 18s to broadcast their location on the app, where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists,” the statement said.

Childnet International, a child advocacy group, also cited its concerns about the update.

“Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat — giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map — we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don’t know in person,” the statement said.

Police and experts recommended, for safety reasons, children and others change their privacy to “ghost mode,” which does not allow their location to be visible, or to change it to be visible to friends only. To do so, open the app and pinch the screen with two fingers to access the Snap Map. Once the Snap Map is open, click the upper right-hand corner settings icon and switch on “ghost mode.” 

“It is important to be careful about who you share your location with,” Police Chief Jeff O’Dell of Kissimmee, Florida, told WESH-TV Monday. “It can allow people to learn your travel patterns such as where you live, go to school and how you spend your time. It can also let a potential burglar know when you are not at home.”

GettyImages-646800044 Snapchat's new feature allows the exact location of a user to be broadcast across the app. Photo: Getty Images