Snapchat wants to allay privacy concerns over its new Snap Map feature.
Launched last week, Snap Map lets users share their location with friends on a map. “It’s easy to get started – just pinch to zoom out and view the Map!” it explained, in a blog post.
Snap Map, however, has sparked concerns over users’ privacy, particularly when children are using the feature.
Snapchat says users can control who, if anyone, sees them on Snap Map. “The safety of our community is very important to us and we want to make sure that all Snapchatters, parents and educators have accurate information about how the Snap Map works,” explained a Snapchat spokeswoman, in a statement emailed to Fox News.
The spokeswoman explained that with Snap Map, location-sharing is off by default for all users and is completely optional. “Snapchatters can choose exactly who they want to share their location with, if at all, and can change that setting at any time,” she added. “It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.”
Users can interact with Snap Map in three ways. The first, “Ghost Mode,” lets users enter into the map and look for content, without being visible on the map themselves. The second option, “Select Friends,” lets users choose their friends who they want to see their location. The third, “My Friends,” gives users the option of letting all their friends see their location.
Snapchat says that if users choose to share their location on the Map, the location is only updated when the Snapchat app is open -- not in the background.
Nonetheless, fears about users’ privacy have prompted warnings about Snap Map. Rosenberg Police Department in Texas, for example, urged parents of children using Snap Map to pay close attention to the feature’s settings. “In order to prevent your child's location from being shared, they should put the setting into "Ghost Mode". To view the map and switch the mode, pinch the screen while you're on the Snapchat camera. From there you can change the settings.In order to prevent your child’s location from being shared, they should put the setting in ‘Ghost Mode’,” it said, in a Facebook post. “To view the map and switch the mode, pinch the screen while you’re on the Snapchat camera. From there you can change the settings.”
The U.K.’s Preston Police also posted a similar warning on Facebook.
The minimum age for using Snapchat is 13.
Location sharing features are offered by tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook, with Apple Maps and Google Maps among the most popular.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers