Don’t condemn Snapchat as a ‘child tracking’ privacy threat for introducing Snap Map – blame the parents for not being educated on what their children are using.
For those who haven’t heard the news over the past seven days, Snapchat have launched ‘Snap Map,’ an opt-in feature that allows users to share their exact location with friends on a map. The benefits of which are to see where your friends are and view a collection of stories from anywhere in the world (posted publicly when you select ‘our story’ in the sharing menu).
In Snap Inc.’s introduction video of this feature, they were quick to present the benefits of this feature, but they never tell you this means your location to within roughly two/three house numbers is broadcast to whoever is on your friends list.
And I do have my quarrels with this – what if I’ve told my friends I’m late for what sounds like a legitimate hold up in traffic, but Snap Map reveals my love for playing video games and never leaving my bed? I don’t want to have to apologise for the kind of person I am!
Further to that, what if my friends all say they’re too busy to go out one night, and then I see them all together in one place? There are social anxiety concerns with this feature (just like many features across many social networks) that everybody seems to be ignoring.
But there is an easy fix to the whole Snap Map thing… The function is opt-in. That’s right, you’re not part of this map to begin with. You can turn off this feature after by activating ‘Ghost Mode’ and you can stop snaps from broadcasting publicly across the map by not posting to ‘Our Story.’
So why all the hubbub, to the same chaotic levels as losing half your biscuit when dipped in a nice, warm cup of tea?
Well, media outlets know that scary-sounding stories of privacy threats and their social justice attack on the companies who introduce these threats get a lot of views.
In some situations, these stories are warranted pieces of journalism – including data breaches due to lack of company security. But at other times (including here), it’s a slightly dramatized narrative that works to support their point. And I should know – I’m guilty of writing a couple of these myself!
Wired calls it “Snapchat’s Stalkerish” feature. “Snapchat’s newest feature is also its biggest privacy threat,” proclaims The Verge. Many articles share quotes from concerned parents who “have no idea” how to deactivate this feature.
And that’s the problem! With many of these features, parents always seem to have a natural and deliberate refusal to look for instructions and fix any problems themselves like a parent should.
If the steps to reverse what you deem to be encroaching on your child’s privacy are not directly in front of you, you won’t look. And before you comment away, no this is not all parents. I have friends who I know will have looked into the feature themselves, made a judgement call, spoken to their children about the potential risks and turned the feature off.
But you can’t deny the underhanded attack that is happening here, which is simply ignoring the grandiose sense of self-entitlement that some parents possess in feeling they should be given all the steps without any real desire to look for them.
Should there be better education about online services provided to parents and children? Yes, but that’s not the world we live in at the moment, so your best course of action is to open a computer and jump on Google… You know… The search thingy you’ve probably asked your son/daughter about.
Hell, I'll give you a quick hint myself! Go to Childnet International - they give you full stories about the latest online services your child may be using.
Your child’s safety is your responsibility – act on it rather than falling for the press’ rather skewed perspective and pointing fingers at the company who introduces a feature that will be viewed by many as a helpful means of connecting the world.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.