Picayune Police warn residents of Snapchat location services
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017
A new feature released by the social media application Snapchat allows users to share and track their exact location with other users.
The update was released last week and officers with the Picayune Police Department are warning parents to turn off the tracking service.
As a security measure, the app allows the user to decide whether they want to share their location or not.
By enabling Ghost Mode, other users will not be able to track a person’s location.
If a child has the app, they should turn the location service off, Picayune Police Department Det. Christa Groom said.
The app is a known communication method for child predators, along with many other services that offer chat options, she said.
According to Snapchat’s support website for the feature, the map updates where a person is every time they open the app, if their location is set to be visible to other users.
Locations will expire after several hours, the website states, or when a user enters Ghost Mode.
Even if a user enables Ghost Mode, snaps posted to Our Story can still show up on the map, according to the website.
Groom said if a child unknowingly has a predator on their online friends list, anything could happen if the predator gets ahold of the child’s location.
Even though Snapchat notifies users when someone takes a screenshot of a sent image, it’s impossible to know if someone took a picture of the image using another phone, she said.
Just like other information that is put on the Internet, once it is out there, it stays there, Groom said.
Despite Snapchat’s appeal that photos or messages disappear after they’re opened, that data can be retrieved, she said.
But there are ways to prevent these issues, Groom said.
If parents are particularly concerned, they shouldn’t allow children to have the app on their phone. Instead, there are other ways to track a child’s location.
Applications like Life 360 will send a parent alerts when a child gets home or is in a certain area, Groom said.
Parents can also restrict downloads to a child’s phone through certain privacy settings that are specific to each device.
By becoming more involved and learning about these technologies, parents can prevent a potential tragedy, she said.
The app does not automatically turn on when the app is updated, but will prompt a user to turn the location service on/off when the map is opened it for the first time.
If users have downloaded the latest update, they can access the map and its settings by pinching the screen when the app is open to the photo screen and click the icon in the top right corner where a user can enable “Ghost Mode.”
There is also an option to allow only certain friends to see a user’s location.
There are other privacy options on the app to prevent anyone from viewing a user’s story or photos. Those settings can be accessed by clicking on the top left corner of the screen to bring up the user account information and then selecting the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen.