A company’s warning about Snapchat featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post has gone viral with 21 million people around the world viewing it it in less than a week.
SocialPlus, which promotes safe, in-house Wi-Fi product Horizon to businesses, alerted the online community last week that Snapchat’s latest update has a tracker which lets people see the location of their friends.
The new function allows users to see the area, town, street and even house in the street where their friends are, so they are able to meet up without the need to contact each other.
But some parents’ groups are concerned this could pose a potential risk to youngsters, leaving them and their location exposed to predators.
And SocialPlus's posting on Facebook showing how to disable the function by going into ‘ghost mode’ was immediately seized upon by the online community and shared by millions of people worldwide.
Emma Crowe the social media manager who sent out the post for the Tyneside company, told the YEP: “The response to it was unbelievable.
“It started going mad from the start and in three hours my mobile phone was flattened by the number of notifications.
“They didn’t stop for three days and you could see the posting being shared across America, and then Australia and then back across into Europe, Germany in particular.
“Initially we kept coming back expecting interest to have died down but then it went past a million and then two million and kept on going!”
At the latest count, the Facebook post had been shared more than 176,000 times with over 30,000 comments, 11,000 likes and total views in excess of 21 million.
Snapchat has stressed that the location feature is 'opt-in', which means that location sharing is switched off by default but can be turned on by the user.
Location sharing only works with people added to your friends list, say Snapchat, and you can set the feature for a group of friends or everyone.
But enabling 'ghost mode' means the user will not share their location and that is what Emma and Unite have been highlighting .
Paul Sykes, MD of Nexus, which installs Horizon Wi-Fi, said: “A big part of Horizon is the focus on keeping businesses safe with their in-house Wi-Fi so it was natural Emma would want to put out an alert on how parents might want to be aware of this latest Snapchat feature.
“But I the phenomenal response shows a number of things - like how massive social media is these days and how big an issue internet security is.
“When it comes to new technology, it’s so important to make sure you have the proper safeguards and that goes for parents and children, as well as businesses.”
A spokesman for Snapchat said: "Snapchat is first and foremost a place to talk with your closest friends day after day.
"In fact, the majority of interactions on Snapchat (nearly 60%) are between close friends (Circles of Influence research from Sparkler, US data, commissioned by Snap).
"To get started and view the Snap Map, simply pinch to zoom out from the Snapchat camera!
"The Snap Map is a new layer on top of the current Snapchat experience. The first time Snapchatters open Snapchat after updating their app, they’ll be taken through an onboarding flow outlining how to find the Map and how it works.
"Snap Map is a living, breathing map -- it’s different every day! -- and can inspire you to take action. See a friend on the Snap Map? Chat them or maybe even go meet up. Not sure what to do today? Explore the Map and go out on an adventure. QSnaps shown on the Map inc