We live in a world where the virtual space of social media has become more familiar than never before. We see children, young adults and even elders using different social apps to keep up with the flow. But the danger behind all these cool applications is far worse than we could imagine. The truth is that sex traffickers are using apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter to form trusting relationships with young girls, to follow every move they make and to find private information about them.
One of the most popular social apps, Snapchat, has recently added to their arsenal a new feature, called SnapMap. This makes things even easier for traffickers to do their job because this feature shares your location on a map, in real time, on what street you are exactly. At first, it may sound cool, but many tech experts warn us about the dangers of using Snapmap. Normally for a sex trafficker, it took time to establish a connection with a girl so that he could find out more about where she spends her time and with whom, what school she goes to and where she lives. But SnapMap offers them all this information in seconds. So a kidnapper or a sex trafficker can get to you faster than ever, and find you wherever you might be. Even though turning on the map is not automatic and it requires users to subscribe, it will update users' locations every time they open the Snapchat app - and make them available to anybody in the users' contacts book. While Snapchat offers a "Ghost Mode" setting which would prevent others from seeing your location, another setting allows a child's location to be tracked by anyone in their contacts list. In addition, videos and photographs shared using Snapchat's "Our Stories" feature will display their location on the map, even if the user has set their device to use "Ghost Mode."
One of the dangers is that if users follow each other online, they can see offline behaviors and regular location stops; for example, on the way home after school, or work. This opens the door for the sex trafficker to learn your habits and, basically, makes it easier for them to find you. Also, this feature could lead to bullying and stalking, whether you are a child or an adult. Dangerous people, bullies, predators or people with bad intentions will use this tool for their advantage.
SnapMap is a feature that unfortunately has crossed the privacy line. Sharing too much information on social media attracts too many risks. Protect yourself and your child, your friends and family and choose to be safe on social media. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:
1.To turn off your location entirely, all you have to do is go to the settings feature on your phone, click on privacy and choose location off. This will keep your location private from any app, not only Snapchat.
2.When using Snapchat, choose the Ghost Mode option so that no one can see your location.
3.Choose the Select friends option, if you want to share your location only with friends or family.
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