Mention the word “geotagging” and you’ll probably be met with a blank stare. Most people won’t recognize the word, yet they engage in it on a daily basis.
What is geotagging? In a nutshell, geotagging tracks the exact GPS coordinates where a digital activity took place. For example, when you take a picture with your smartphone (and many newer model digital cameras) each photo is embedded with a piece of data giving the longitude and latitude where the photo was taken. Geotagging is also the technology that enables the process of “checking in” and publishing your presence at certain locations on your social media networks.
Some people think geotagging is great; for instance, the photographer who can’t quite remember just where he went hiking last year when he took some amazing pictures. For others, geotagging isn’t so great. In fact, it can be downright dangerous. In this digital world, where we post photos and information to our digital communities on a whim, you might not realize that you’re broadcasting exactly where you’ve been – or where you are. Locations like your home, your workplace, your children’s school (and their after-school activities) all of a sudden are accessible to anyone who can get access those photos. And, if you’re announcing in real time that you are at your favorite restaurant, or on vacation with the family, you’re also announcing that your home may be empty.
The good news is that the geotagging is a feature can be disabled. Simply perform a search for “ disable geotagging” and the brand name of your mobile device to find the correct procedure for your particular device.
Take protection one step further and inform others (relatives, camp counselors, coaches, etc.) that you aren’t comfortable with having pictures of your family posted online without your prior consent.
A little bit of awareness and a few proactive steps go a long way towards keeping your family safe.