Nadia Sawalha has issued an important warning on the Facebook page she runs with fellow Loose Woman Kaye Adams about a worrying new feature on social media platform Snapchat.
In a video filmed by husband Mark, Nadia appears sitting in her garden with 14-year-old daughter Maddie, who explains the new feature.
‘They’ve just updated [Snapchat], and it’s called SnapMaps,’ she says. ‘So what it does… If I zoom out, it goes to a map of the world, and I can see [the location] of all of the friends on Snapchat, and you can see what they’re doing.’
Maddie goes on to list some intimate details of her friends’ daily lives, like the fact that someone is driving a car, and another friend is listening to music in her room. She could even see that one transatlantic friend was sitting at her school desk, and the name of the high school in Florida.
After a massive 20million views of the post, Snapchat have offered a statement outlining important safety measures, and specifying that ‘the majority of interactions on Snapchat takes place between close friends.’
But Nadia raises other concerns, like the fact that the feature could cause tension in friendship groups and aggravate controlling behaviour.
‘What if you don’t get invited to the party, and you see all your friends are at the party?’ she asks. ‘[And what about] control issues?’
What’s most worrying is that the feature was updated to the app seemingly without any kind of notification and so, even though there is a ‘Ghost’ setting that enables users to keep their location private, many were not aware it had even be installed.
In their statement, Snapchat said: ‘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. 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. It’s also not possible to share your location with someone who isn’t already your friend on Snapchat.’
Many followers in the comments have applauded Maddie for telling her mum straight away, who was then able to share the important message with her fans.
One agreed: ‘Horrific breach of privacy risking children’s physical mental and emotional wellbeing. Snapchat will be banned in our household, ghost mode or no ghost mode. At the very least, any update should make it very clear what the differences are and the user should agree to them. In this case, I think it should require parental controls. Better still, ban this latest update!’
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Another said: ‘I posted about this last week. I think it’s completely irresponsible of the makers of Snapchat and needs to be addressed. Think of perverts, think of children that are bullied, think of being away from home on holiday – there are so many things that are wrong with this. Even though your children may switch the ghost mode on, they will still be curious and turn it off to see what’s going on. The sooner this is taken off completely, the better. Just my opinion.’