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Sheriff Warns About Snapchat's New 'Snap Map' Feature

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A social media app pushed out a new update allowing people to be tracked in a snap -- and it's raising safety concerns.

The latest update to Snapchat allows friends to see someone's exact location.

The Pope County Sheriff's office put a warning on Facebook to let people know about Snap Map.

Sheriff Tim Riley says the change on his Snapchat account alarmed him.

"If you have the app on your phone, it's live. You don't have to be using it," Riley said. "You open this map up and I can see where all my friends are at."

He says it can be dangerous for anyone to know your location, especially for kids.

Snap Map
Snap Map (credit: CBS)

"You send your kids to the park to play and you know where they're at, but what we know and what we've learned through different investigations, as a parent I'm not the only one that knows where my kid is," Riley said.

Kids can become a target when an app makes a location accessible.

Pope County Deputy Bryan Klassen works with the state's task force on internet crimes against children. Since Snap Map only shares location information with friends, he says it's crucial that parents know who their child's friends are and who they add.

"Somebody gives them a friend request and without even second guessing they just accept that friend request. Well, that turns into what seemingly to them is innocent conversation but in reality could be part of a grooming process for a predator," Klassen said.

The Snap Map does allow users to select their setting, allowing all friends, select friends or no one to see their location. A user can hide through "Ghost Mode."

"When you're in the map and you push settings, there's a switch and you can enable that," Riley said.

He recommends that parents stay on top of updates to social media apps to protect their children's privacy.

A representative for Snapchat released this statement:

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, and the majority of interactions on Snapchat take place between close friends.

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