It is amazing what personal info is stored in our pictures. With a few simple clicks you can see what type of phone was used, what the ISO was set at, the focal length, and even where you were when you took the picture. This feature is called geo-tagging, It makes remembering where you were when you took the picture a lot easier and it also can help organize your photo album; depending on the device. But this info can also be used for evil. In the wrong hands your family pictures can tell someone exactly where you are. So it is important to know what you can do to protect yourself and your family when sharing photos online.
Where is this info stored?
Every time you take a digital picture information is stored along with it in the EXIF (Exchangeable image file format) Depending on your camera info like the ISO, aperture, white balance, exposure time, focal length, exact size of the picture, and the location data if your phone or digital camera includes Wi-Fi or GPS.
How to turn off Geo-Tagging?
If you take this step then you won’t have to worry about any of your images putting you in any danger. When off no location data will be stored in the photos EXIF data. Things like your device info and details about the settings will still be saved but not much can be done with that info.
Turning Locations Settings off on iPhone
- Go to Settings
- Tap on Privacy
- Tap on Location Services
- Turn the switch for Camera off
For Android the Geo-Tagging setting is located within the Camera app’s Settings.
What to do with images that are already tagged?
So now geo-tagging is off. It is all well and good but what about those imaged you already took with it on? On both Android and iOS there are apps available to remove or edit the EXIF info on the photo. For Android devices there are several free apps. The one I suggest is EXIF Eraser(click to download from the Play Store). With it you can save a file without the EXIF info just for sharing the photo or just replace the original.
To remove the EXIF data from a photo you have already moved to your computer follow these steps
On Windows 7/8
- Open the folder with the pictures
- Right-click the image
- Select Properties
- Go to Details
- Click on “Remove Properties and Personal Information”
- From here you can decide if you want to erase everything and create a copy of the info (just in case you need it later) or click “Remove the following properties from the file”
We all love to share picture of our kids, family, and friends. But posting information and photos online can leave us open to some bad things. At the end of the day it is important to remember that privacy is something we need to take seriously. Smartphones are great, and used with that though in mind they can be even better.