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Social media apps on a smartphone. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

The boy had taken his brother's car and driven several hours from Simpsonville, South Carolina to live with a man he met on Snapchat, according to police.

By the time the boy pulled up next to Braun in a restaurant parking lot at 12:30 in the morning, he was 200 miles (321km) from home.

"He was lost, he didn't know where he was going, and he needed help," Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds told WCIV.

After his father's GPS device lost the signal, the boy was unable to reenter the man's address, because the message had disappeared; one of Snapchat's features is a messaging function that allows people to communicate in short videos and photos that disappear after a few seconds. Police haven't determined the identity of the man.

Once Braun made contact with the child, police called his father, who drove to Charleston to pick him up and bring him back to Simpsonville.

"The child's home safe," James Donnelly of the Simpsonville Police Department told WCIV. "It's an ongoing case."

Police are still investigating whether the man lured the boy to Charleston, WCSC reported.

Reynolds, the Charleston police chief, issued a warning about social media.

"I would love tonight, right now, anybody who's watching this, who is a parent of a child, especially an 11-year-old, to sit down with your 11-year-old, right now, right this moment, and have a conversation about what you're doing on social media, the dangers, the benefits and things that as a parent we need to talk about every day," he told WCIV.