Yes, People Can Stalk You Through Mobile Photos. BUT…

A news segment video has been going around Facebook lately about how people can locate you and your children via photos you post to the Internet. The basic gist is that unless you have the settings on your smartphone set correctly, the GPS coordinates of where a photo was taken can be included with the photo when you post it online.
In other words, if you share a photo of your kid at your dining room table, someone could track the exact location of your dining room from the data attached to the photo.
I’ve also seen a lot of panic and shock about this information (not really helped by the big WARNING!!! sign on the post that includes the video), which always makes me want to dig a little deeper. Major panic on a viral post is usually a signal that something’s not totally accurate. So I did a little digging and thought I’d help clear things up a bit.
I’ve included the video at the end of this post for reference. Before you watch it, there are a few things you should know:
1) The news segment is 3 years old, and some of the information in it is outdated. However, the basic info about location services settings on your phone is legit. It’s worth watching to see how it works and how you could be opening yourself up to privacy and safety issues unknowingly.
2) Major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter remove the GPS coordinates from your photos when you post them, so you probably don’t need to panic too much (assuming that’s where you post most of your photos online).
3) Not all sites remove that sort of data from photos, however, so you probably should go ahead and check your phone’s settings anyway.
I’m not a fan of living in fear. But I’m also not a fan of making it easier for creepy people to do creepy things. And the possibility that someone could find your home by clicking on a photo of your kid in your living room if you post it in the wrong place is a little creepy.  
I also consider myself fairly modern when it comes to technology, but I somehow missed the memo about location services on the phone camera. When I checked mine, it was set to “ON.” I didn’t even realize it. Yikes! 
The solution is to turn off Location Services for the camera on your phone. It’s not in the camera app itself, but in the general settings of the phone. 
The video explains how to get to those settings on different phones. I have an iPhone, so I can give you the specific steps I had to go through for the iPhone:
– Open the Settings app (that silver gear-looking icon)
– Click on “General”
– Click on “Restrictions”
– Click “Enable Restrictions” at the top, unless they’ve already been enabled (mine hadn’t)
– Under “Allow:” make sure “Camera” is set to “ON”
– Scroll down to “Privacy:” and click “Location Services”
– You can turn all “Location Services” to “OFF,” but that will mess with your ability to use maps, etc. Instead, scroll down to “Camera” and make sure it’s set to “OFF.” I did the same thing with Facebook, Instagram, and my other social networking sites, just for good measure. If I want to let people know where I am, I’ll tell them. I don’t want anything automatically noting my location. 
Here’s the news segment:

Like I said, some of that info is outdated, so don’t panic. And even with the GPS data, the chances of someone stalking you from a photo you share online is pretty slim. But also, like I said, no need to make things easier for the creepies among us. Be wise and be safe.

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Annie writes about motherhood and other hilariously beautiful things. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and three children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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