Sligo Fine Gael Area Representative
Sligo Parents Need to be Alert Over Recent ‘Snapchat’ Upgrade: Gaffney
Blaine Gaffney, a Fine Gael Area Representative in Sligo, has said that unassuming parents in Co. Sligo need to be alerted to a worrying new upgrade to the mobile phone application ‘Snapchat’, which could have damaging consequences for their young children’s privacy and safety as a result of using the popular application.
Gaffney stated that, “Snapchat, which is an app that permanently deletes picture messages after they have been viewed by a user, has this week introduced a new ‘Snap Map’ feature in order to let its users find their friends exact location on a map and to get an understanding of where they are at and what they are doing.
“The new feature is available for all accounts, unless you manually disable it in the applications settings menu. “For me this new feature, despite it being a rather clever and interesting app development, has raised serious concerns about the privacy and safety related issues.
“I say this as Snapchat is used by so many young people in Ireland who may be 'friends' with people they don't actually know in reality and who in most cases, have not set their accounts to private or hidden from public.
“It seems to me rather unethical that there has been no checks put in place by the company to protect younger children using the app before this roll out has been allowed to occur.
“It has been quite alarming for the parents who have only recently found out about this feature this week and on this basis, I would be advocating for any parents in Co. Sligo who are unaware of the extent of their children's online activity to take note of this recent development and to try and discuss this issue with their children.
“We have seen too many times in the past where evil people have used the internet and increasingly social media platforms to groom young children or assist them to carry out an crime. ‘I believe that this new development as it stands could assist someone of this nature and it poses a risk to young children if their profiles are public or if they have many ‘friends’ who they do not know.
“Thankfully there are a number of safety features which can be changed in the app in order to ensure that your child’s account is safe and only viewable to his or her personal friends and I would advise all parents to take this course of action with their children accounts and implement that 'Ghost Mode' on the app.
“Social media is a powerful and brilliant new tool in a modern world. However parents need to be alert to the potential dangers involved as it continually develops and to know how to keep on ensuring that your children are safe online” conceded Gaffney.