In the past few years Twitter has been the surging social networking website, being seen by many as a less complicated alternative to Facebook. However, for people not content with merely the micro blogging nature of Twitter, there are also extra features that can be used to get in touch with the online world. One of these optional extras is the ability to upload photos. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to these Twitter pics that the website does not tell its users:
Your GPS data is online for all to see, too.
A common feature on many newer digital cameras and camera-equipped phones, the geo-tagging feature automatically saves longitude/latitude coordinate data as part of the image along with common settings like shutter speed, ISO, white balance, lens data, and the like. Now, if one were to post a geo-tagged photo on the Internet, anyone who downloads that image has the potential to see exactly where the photo was taken. Result: according to Ben Jackson, a security expert who founded the website IcanStalkU.com, people can potentially track your right to your home address!
Besides home addresses, potential stalkers can look at groups of photos to determine favorite hangouts, your commuting patterns, and where you currently are should you be one of the people who likes to upload photos immediately after you take them.
In addition, a tech-savvy thief can also take advantage of geo-tagging. How? Just like a would-be stalker, a thief can look at your online albums, determine where you live, and then track you over a period of time. So, if a thief finds out that you live in, say, Cleveland, and suddenly finds a whole slew of new pictures that were taken in Florida, he’ll know that you’re on vacation and won’t be back home anytime soon, which is a perfect time to break into your house and help himself to your valuables.
Now there is good news: Twitter’s photo service does strip GPS data from pictures, Unfortunately, third-party services don’t make such guarantees. However, a good way to strip EXIF data from a picture is to copy it and paste it into a Windows Paint document, which will only leave the most basic of information.
After all, do you really need to know latitude and longitude of your favorite hang-outs?
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