Avoid creating a road map to danger

By KBJR News 1

November 26, 2013 Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 11:41 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - For Kyle Johnson, it's hard to resist a quick picture or two when you have cute kids and Duluth as the backdrop.

Johnson caters to quite the following on Instagram. 4,400 people to be exact. With so many eyes on his work, he knows he needs to be careful with what he shares online.

"I'll keep the home life private off the Instagram feed or off of Facebook and having a peace of mind knowing that I'm not sharing where I live with someone else," Johnson said.

Embedded within a single picture, there's not only the settings used, and the date, but most concerning where it was taken.

It's called geotagging and it provides the latitude and longitude of where you snapped a given picture.

Sergeant Thomas Champaigne investigates internet crimes for the Superior Police Department and says sharing that information could put your family at risk.

"If somebody takes an interest in you, your family, your loved ones, and you're geotagging that information or broadcasting it, they can see, exactly see, where that person lives, where they work, where they've been, and you can follow that person and easily find them," Sgt. Champaigne said.

Using certain programs, you can pull up the "EXIF" or file info and map out where pictures are taken, should they contain geotags.

"We don't worry about our friends knowing the information. They already know where we live and what our family looks like. It's the people we don't know that well," said Sgr. Champaigne.

That's why experts recommend turning off geotagging on your smartphones."

"The more you know about your privacy controls, with any social network, the more in power you are to try and protect it," said Daisy-Rae Quaker, a content strategist with Pure Driven.

You can find the option to turn geotagging on and off under your phone's privacy settings. Experts add it's important to remember it's not just your camera using geotags.

"Google can track where you are. If you have Yelp, or other apps that recommend nearby places to eat, they can also track where you are," said Quaker.

Sergeant Champaigne adds responsibility and moderation are key in today's digital world.

"Our suggestion is any social media be cognizant of what you post. Don't post personal information like location, vacation, family information," Champaigne said.

Geotags aren't all bad. Police say they've caught bad guys and have returned missing phones to their rightful owners thanks to pictures that contained the data.

If you're concerned about pictures you have uploaded to Facebook containing geotags, not to worry. The social media website actually strips the data before the picture is posted.

Turning off Geotagging

iPhone: Settings / Privacy / location services / choose apps you don't want using geotagging.
Android: Camera app / settings / check geo-tag button
Blackberry: Camera app / menu / options / geotagging

Kevin Jacobsen
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