We’re all guilty of uploading and sharing photos of our beautiful families, vacations and even the occasional selfie on social media websites like facebook, twitter and instagram. But did you know that you could be putting your children at risk by uploading their photos online? Our expert tech and computer forensic investigator explains how to keep your family safe from online predators by simply changing the settings on your smartphone and social media pages.
Understanding the danger of blindly sharing Photos online:
All smartphones have “location services” setting turned on by default. It’s the setting that allows applications that help you to “find my phone” or “find my friends” so easy to track down. This setting also geotags photos. Essentially, a geotag is a digital footprint (metadata) which allows for anyone to read the coordinates through a GPS location where the picture was taken. Newer digital camera models also geotag photos by default. When you upload the photos online, you are essentially giving online predators a map that can aid in identifying the locations where you frequent. It is literally as simple as right-clicking on the photos “properties”, or the “get info” button on a MAC to view its location.
Social media page settings can also give your location away if they are left at the default safety levels. You can easily turn the GPS setting off on social network sites like facebook and twitter.
How to remove the GPS location on Smartphones:
You can disable the location settings on a smartphone’s Camera app before taking pictures.
For iPhones, touch the Settings icon screen and click on Privacy. From there click on the Location Services, then click on Camera. Under the “Allow Location Access” option select “Never”. Now you can take all the pictures you want, without the location embedded in the photo’s properties.
For Android phones, you should be able to open the camera application, tap on Settings and then scroll down to the “Geotags” option. From there you just have to disable the Geotag option. However, most android phones vary based on the manufacturer. The most accurate way to disable the location services would be to look up the model and year and follow the instructions for disabling the camera’s GPS location service.
As an extra safety measure, it’s good practice to always set your social network pages to high privacy settings. Make sure to do the same for your children’s pages and check up on their settings regularly.