Police issue Snapchat alert for parents due to new location feature

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Milton Police are alerting parents of a new Snapchat location feature called "Snap Map" that tracks the user's current location and places their avatar on a map.

Authorities say they are alerting parents because the new feature may put minors unknowingly at risk.

In the new feature, you don't have to be friends with that user in order to access the information. However, there are ways in the settings to limit how location information is shared.

The setting options include "Only Me (Ghost Mode)," "My Friends," and "Select Friends." The Milton Police Department is recommending that parents and guardians make sure that any minor children using Snapchat use the Snap Map feature in Ghost Mode.

"Children are some of our most vulnerable residents, and they're often the most trusting, and this can put them at risk," said Milton Police Chief Rich Austin. "We don't want to discourage the use of social media altogether, but we want to help ensure that our adults and children are informed users."

Here are step-by-step instructions for entering Ghost Mode:

1. Open the Snapchat app on your smartphone.
a. If you're opening Snapchat for the first time after the update, you are automatically prompted to go step-by-step setting your preference (Only Me/Ghost Mode, My Friends, or Selects Friends).
b. If the app was previously opened after the update, you will not be prompted and you will need to open Snap Map using Steps 2-6 below.

2. Open the Snapchat app. Your camera feature should automatically open. If not, open chat and launch your camera. You should see whatever you are pointing your phone's camera at on the screen.

3. In the middle of the screen, pinch your thumb and index finger, closing them together. This opens the Snap Map and you will see your avatar (icon) located on the map. (See screenshot below.)

4. Click on Settings (wheel-looking icon in the top) to open your Settings menu for location sharing. (See screenshot below.)

5. Turn on Ghost Mode. (See screenshot below.)

6. Close the Snapchat app.