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A privacy suggestion in the age of GPS enabled smartphones with cameras.

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I have noticed more often than not that people have photos with the full GPS data in them. It is contained in something called EXIF data which also tells about what kind of camera was used to take the photo, f stop, focal length etc.

Some photo sharing sites such as flickr will strip the data. Some such as photobucket are lousy about it. They sometimes strip, they sometimes do not. Facebook and other social media will strip the data but use their own location publishing scheme and you can easily and visibly control this.

I keep a plugin on my web browser to read EXIF data as I hover over an image. I do this because I am a photographer and I like to see what kind of camera gear the photographer has used. (Un)fortunately the plugin has a GPS feature where one click can reveal where the photo was taken. I will not detail how to do this here but it is very easy to do.

This is no big deal if you take a photo in, say, times square or the eiffel tower. It is a big deal if you take a selfie at home, or a photo at work, because bam - you've just given the world your home address or workplace and you may not even know it. 

So maybe a suggestion with regard to privacy and posting photos would be in order. You can't make people do stuff but maybe fair warning to people posting photos, maybe as part of the welcome message - strip out the GPS data or turn off the GPS when taking pictures.

On a site like this, you never know who is watching, and who is ready to out you.

Thanks for your time.

This is very good advice. Thanks for posting it, Kate.

OMG, thank you for posting this! I checked and it turns out that some of my older pictures had GPS data in them that could have led someone right to my home. Thankfully I was able to remove them, but now I'm left wondering if anyone got my info while they were still up...

  None of my pictures have GPS data on them. Luddite cell phone that I don't take pictures with and two dumb cameras. My CCD astronomic camera does not have GPS on the raw .fit images, but the co-ordinances of my location I put in for accuracy for tracking asteroids and comets. Any finished published image of that does not have location but does have basic EXIF data such as the name of your computer. The panorama shots in my Flikr page has locations, as they are of pretty public places. Turn off the location data on your smartphone or GPS enabled camera if you can. That is dangerous. Be careful in sending any image through the internet. There is no such thing as privacy here!


The easiest way to prevent this from happening - turn location services OFF before you take a photo. You can turn it on afterwards. This way the GPS data is not in the pic.

I have a modern iPhone 6 plus and a Galaxy S5 Android. These both have GPS. I have use for them such as waze for navigation... so I have to be careful.

I let a few of them slip due to a bug in photobucket.

I would say use flickr as they strip out the data.


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