Consumer Alerts

    CONSUMER ALERT: Snapchat Scare


    July 12, 2017

    LITTLE ROCK – With Snapchat releasing new tracking features for their app, users need to be aware of new risks. Snapchat is a mobile messaging app that allows users to send and receive pictures that are displayed on screen for, at most, 10 seconds. The new update dubbed Snap Map now allows Snapchat “friends” to track others’ locations when the app is open.

    Although the update was only introduced recently, GPS tracking apps are already concerning law enforcement due to potential safety problems. Officials worry that location-based services on apps make children and teens more vulnerable to predators. For Snapchat, when the Snap Map feature is enabled, any “friends” can track your location. Snapchat has implemented a Ghost Mode for users to hide from the map feature which can be turned on by pinching the screen when the camera is open in the app, tap the settings icon in the top right corner and swipe to enable the feature.

    “Adults need to be aware that these location tracking apps could potentially put young people in danger,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Allowing followers to track your location at all times can be dangerous, especially if you do not personally know all of your ‘friends' on social media. Adults must be as concerned about a potential online stalker as they would be about an in-person stalker."

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to protect children from online predators:

    • Talk to children about sexual victimization and the potential of online danger.
    • Utilize parental controls and blocking software on mobile devices.
    • Make sure children keep passwords, pictures and personal information to themselves.
    • Remind children never to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they first met online.
    • Teach children not to post anything online that they would not want others to see.
    • Help them remember people they meet online are not always who they say they are.
    • Tell them not to respond to messages that are inappropriate or make them feel uncomfortable.
    • Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter a problem online.
    • Consider disabling all location-based services on mobile devices, which is typically accessible in the privacy settings.

    With apps and technology always changing and updating, it is important for adults to keep up and know the programs on their child’s phone.

    The Attorney General’s office is hosting an internet safety webcast on Wednesday, Aug. 2, as well as provides a technology tip card for consumers, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and a Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety. Community educators are also available to present an internet safety program to parents and educators, and regional cyber safety trainings are available this summer for educators across the state. The FBI also provides internet safety tips for parents to discuss with children.

    For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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