We all do it. Snap pictures on our smart phones and load them onto Facebook, Twitter and any other manner of social media you can think of. Vacations, night out with friends, kids here, kids there…..visually sharing our everyday lives with our “on-line” family. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s fun, it keeps us connected to people and lets us live vicariously through each other. But, along with that photo of little Emma proclaiming that “Our daily trip to the park!” or a picture of our feet with the sand captioned “A week of fun in the sun!” we are announcing our location. We are telling the virtual world where were are, what we are doing and when. The photos we take with our smartphones not only show sweet Alex on his first day of school, they also contain the latitude and longitude of where that photo was taken. That Exif metadata attached to each picture we take can be viewed and then be mapped….rather easily. This discovery of mine, is not a new one at all. Most of you are probably already aware of it. And while I knew of the GPS capabilities of my phone, and that the pictures I took had location data stored into them, I wasn’t overly worried about it. Not until my oldest daughter started using her phone for all of the above.
Er…..hold up there.
So you want to wander through life taking pictures of you and your friends and POST THEM ON THE INTERNET!!! Suddenly, the danger seemed real. Very real. Some random stranger could check out her photos and figure out, quite literally, where she was. What her roaming-with-friends habits were. What she looked like, what she likes, her name. I am sure the list goes on and on and on.
The safety part of this post, or rather where the danger lies, could go in a hundred different directions. Because there are so many different “scenarios” I can only suggest the most basic of solutions.
1- Turn your GPS off on your phone. If the phone can’t log it’s location, it can’t tag it onto the photo.
2- Inform your kids, specifically teens who have phones, that it can potentially be a security threat.
3 – Check privacy settings on your accounts periodically to make sure that only the people you want to see things, can.
4 – Be aware of the sites and apps your using. Some sites automatically wipe the geotagging from your photo when it is uploaded (Facebook & Twitter), others do not.
My favorite is option 1 (though I do them all). It is quick and requires minimal effort on my part, and I can get back to snapping and uploading!