Food for Thought about Geotagging

Here’s some information that I gleaned from Wikipedia:   “In order to capture GPS data at the time the photograph is captured, the user must have a camera with built in GPS.  Most smart phones already use a GPS chip along with built-in cameras to allow users to automatically geotag photos.  Others may have the GPS chip and camera but do not have internal software needed to embed the GPS information within the picture.  With photos stored in JPEG file format, the geotag information is typically embedded in the metadata (stored in Exchangeable image file format (EXIF) or Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) format). These data are not visible in the picture itself but are read and written by special programs and most digital cameras and modern scanners.  Latitude and longitude are stored in units of degrees with decimals and this geotag information can be read by many programs, such as the cross-platform open source ExifTool.”

So what does all of this mean?  It means that you could be telling people a lot more than just what you meant to, when you posted a picture online. Data attached to your photos allows someone to determine, with great accuracy, the whereabouts of your home, your place of work or school and where you have been. Being unaware of this feature on your smartphone and posting personal photos online poses the potential for security risks.  These dangers can be avoided by removing geotags with a metadata removal tool for photos before publishing them on the Internet, or better yet, turning off the geotagging feature on your smartphone all together!  Thankfully, turning off your smartphone’s geotagging feature is fairly simple. You should be able to go into your settings and then into location services, which may be under “general”.  If you turn all location services off, then that will turn off your maps too, so you can just go down to “camera” and turn that off.  Then, all future photos taken will not have the geotag data on them. Because each smartphone is different however, check out your phone’s manufacturer’s website to get exact instructions on how to do this. So, be informed, be safe and as always, use discretion whenever posting anything onto a social media site on the Internet.  For more information on the topic:

Online Tool to help remove EXIF data

You can also use BatchPurifier LITE free for windows to remove EXIF data

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