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  1. ITV Report

Warnings over Snapchat map which can track the exact movements of vulnerable children and adults

Photo: PA

Cleveland Police are issuing a warning to parents and Snapchat users about a new feature, which could be 'live streaming' the exact movements of children and vulnerable people to complete strangers.

Officers are raising concerns about the mobile phone app's new interactive map feature, which they say could put many people at risk. Including, domestic abuse victims who have fled their abusers and don't want their location revealing and children who may be tracked down by bullies.

There are also fears that the map, which allows users to access videos showing their whereabouts to friends, could also be used as a tool for potential burglars, by revealing when people are away from their homes.

Credit: PA

If there are no privacy settings on the account, complete strangers will see the information and the location of where the post was made.

If the person is logged into Snapchat on the move, the cartoon character which represents them will move, tracking their exact movements by GPS.

Officers in the cyber-crime team tested the new map feature over a two day period with a normal user account, which had no friends attached to it. The only videos which were visible were those with poor privacy settings. Videos of young children posted in several locations were seen, including their home address and recreation areas.

Inspector Steve Bell is appealing to users to be aware of how to change privacy settings:

To turn the map feature off is entirely a choice for parents; however we would strongly advise that at the very least privacy settings are changed.

“There will be many people who don’t know the friends they have on their Snapchat, and using the map feature exposes a great deal of personal information – we simply want to warn people that they should turn the feature off if they aren’t happy for strangers to capture their details.”

– Inspector Steve Bell