“Geotagging” Smart Phone Threat

Editor’s Note: We welcome guest contributor Ginger Kadlec of BeAKidsHero™ to help inform our readers about a very important smart phone feature that every parent should know before summer vacation starts!

By Ginger Kadlec—get free updates of new posts here.

A colleague and friend of mine alerted me to an issue I didn’t even realize existed. Did you know a simple photo posted online to Facebook, Instagram or other social media sites can be tracked back to the EXACT geolocation (precise latitude and longitude) where the photo was taken, say your child’s playroom in the basement of your home?

It’s called geotagging. The same GPS technology that enriches our online lives with apps such as Four Square, Gas Buddy and localized Groupons also enables geolocations to be pinpointed on random, everyday pictures you and your kids take at the time those photos are taken. In fact, most smart phones come with geotagging automatically enabled; meaning each picture you take is tagged with the exact geolocation where the photo is snapped. This leaves tangible clues for sexual predators, stalkers and others as to you or your child’s whereabouts (e.g., your home, friends homes, school, clubs, church, etc.).

The good news is, it’s SUPER EASY to disable this auto-function and turn it OFF! For iPhone 4.x or 5.x users, just follow these 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Select the “Settings” option from your home screen.

Step 2: Select the “Privacy” option found on the “Settings” screen.

Step 3: Select “Location Services” found on the “Privacy” screen.

Step 4: From the “Location Services” screen, you can do several things, including:

  1. Disable only the “camera” function on your iPhone by sliding the button from “ON” to “OFF”.
  2. Disable geotagging and GPS tracking all together by sliding the “Location Services” button from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Disable other GPS geotagging features for various apps you’ve downloaded to your iPhone in the same way as the camera function (example: my Facebook button in the middle image below is “OFF”).

If you have another type of smart phone (including an iPhone 3.x), there are different instructions to disable the geotagging feature. In my non-techie opinion, they also appear to be pretty easy to follow.

I strongly encourage you to watch this oh-so-enlightening news report aired a while ago by KSHB NBC Action News which details the very real geotagging threat and what you can do to protect you and your children.

Note: Ginger has informed us of a new app called Safety Pic—”the benefits of it being that you can keep geotagging “on” to show your location (for Four Square, etc.), but can remove the locale from any pictures you take and share on social media.” Thank you, Ginger!

Raising awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger Kadlec’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger regularly blogs about child protection issues and has released a report for parents and other caring adults, “10 Scary Apps”. Click here for your free copy of this informative 12-page report.Along with her husband John and pets Lexi and Chase, Ginger enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking, brisk mornings, colorful sunsets and just hangin’ at home with “the Pack”.

Photos: Courtesy of Ginger Kadlec

Featured Photo: tuelekza

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