Law enforcement says new app raises red flags for parents

Law enforcement says new app raises red flags for parents
Updated: Sep. 16, 2018 at 6:58 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - A new social media app popular among teens and preteens is raising red flags with law enforcement.

"There are literally millions of apps [...] the tasks that parents have is impossible to keep up with all of that technology," Detective Tim McDonald with the Smith County Sheriff's Office said.

Those who investigate cyber crimes against children said it's important for parents to limit what's on their kids devices.

"Sometimes it's not what they're doing it's, what if it's not what their sending but what if it's what their friend is sending them," he said. "So, it's very important that you are in constant monitoring of your child's digital footprint online."

This includes the new app called Mappen.

"Mappen is a geolocation service that's very simple it will show your location to anybody that you make contact with," he said.

McDonald said this isn't unusual when it comes to apps, but the concern is Mappen is targeting kids.

"The dilemma that it can create, of just publicly showing your child's location, is it's showing your child's location to anybody that has access to that profile," he said.

Detective McDonald tells KLTV this is how it works:

"It's going to populate this map with all of the people within feet," he said.

The app will even notify you when a friend is nearby.

"It asks to sync with your contacts so people that have really no desire to be a part of this app or no knowledge of it can then be solicited to be a part of it," he said.

As for the danger this can pose- it's simple, it can give people you don't know access to your children.

KLTV reached out to Mappen in regards to the concerns about their app. In a statement CEO and Co-Founder Jared Allgood said:

"Mappen was designed to combat feelings of isolation among people by giving them an easier way to find their friends and meet up in real life. We think a lot about safety. We have teenagers ourselves and we built Mappen specifically to improve their wellbeing.

Health and safety are the heart of our mission and the reasons we built the app. In addition to making it easy for real friends to get together in real life, we've built the app with safety in mind. This includes things like like one-tap access to your friend list, offline mode, not letting you search for users, and letting you know your friends got home safely after hanging out. Mappen also uses phone verification and algorithmic name verification to make sure users are who they say they are.

You must be over 13 to use Mappen (per Mappen Terms of Service).

You can only add friends if you have them in your phone contact list or they are a friend of a friend, so you won't get friend requests from strangers.

On sign up you must verify your phone number and we algorithmically verify your name and show it to people you request.

Users can remove "friends" and go "offline" with a single tap.

Mappen encourages users to only add people they know and trust in real life.

Like all social media, parents should be involved in how their teens use Mappen."

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