When it comes to technology, there seems to be an added risk for every convenience and the ability to take and send pictures is no exception. Sharing lasting memories of your loved ones on social networking sites may be convenient, but are you aware that pictures you email or upload from your smart phone could leak personal information threatening your safety or that of your loved ones?
If you take photos with your cell phone, take time to watch this video. You may be shocked by what you hear and see.
While a GPS (Global Positioning System) on your smartphone can be helpful if you’re lost and need directions, taking pictures can immediately put you at risk because the GPS coordinates of the phone, as well as the date and time the pictures were taken, are often automatically embedded in the metadata of your photos. Anyone can use social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare and geotagging (the process of adding geographical identification to photographs, video, websites and SMS messages) information to pinpoint your location, home, and even your activities with very little effort.
How can you protect yourself?
- Never share private information such as the location of your home or information that has the ability to reveal personal information such as your daily patterns.
- Be aware where you post your pictures and what geotagged information you leave. Turn off geotagging. Better yet, turn off your GPS services entirely unless you need directions.
- Disable your phone’s ability to tag photos with location information. This is usually under the Settings menu, but you can also check your phone manual.
- If you have already posted photos, make sure they are free of embedded GPS information.
- Be aware of privacy settings on social media sites, such as Facebook. These networking sites make frequent changes to their policies; managing your privacy settings should be ongoing.
For your safety and the safety of your loved ones, don’t be ignorant about technology. Tagging photos on social media sites is completely within your control, so think carefully about the information you share. Put security and safety first.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.