Big Brother is not always the government. In fact, in the 21st Century, you can be sure of one thing – SOMEONE is looking over your shoulder. For teens, it seems that friending as many people as possible is a status symbol.  My nephews have close to 1000 friends on their Facebook.  I have been friended by several people that are slightly unsavory, and deleted all of them.  On Twitter, I notice that some of the profiles don’t exactly match the tweets being produced.  All that seems benign since, for many people, there is a feeling of anonymity when conversing to hundreds, even thousands of people from the comfort of your laptop.  There is one secret that you may not know, but criminals and predators are becoming all too aware of, and they can pinpoint your location within a few feet AND even learn your daily/hourly habits.

According to Geotag Security, one mobile photo with geotags can reveal:

  • where you live
  • where you spend your time
  • when there is no one home
  • where you park your car
  • and other information that you wouldn’t want to tell

Remember that really sweet picture you took with your mobile phone, in your backyard with the kids and your new puppy.  You thought it would be great to share it on your Facebook page to all your friends.  It may come as a surprise to you to learn that your mobile phone automatically embedded your spatial coordinates using geotags right onto the digital file and now your location and time of day are available to EVERYONE.

Ironically, for the less paranoid of us, there are even products made especially to geotag your movements.  GiSTEQ offers the PhotoTrackr, which boasts, “If you took pictures on your trip, it will show you the exact location and time of your pictures.”  Hmmm…frankly, I’m still not used to people being able to get in touch with me ANYWHERE by calling my mobile phone or texting me or even emailing me.  Sometimes, I just want to be uninterruptable (I just made up this word.  I predict it will make its way into mainstream American language by 2011).

I read a terrific article in Women’s Health entitled, “Online Privacy Predators,” which alerted me to this frightening issue.

Geotag Security offers both free and upgraded software to keep you and your family safe.  They provide one immediate solution:

1. Turn OFF GPS on your phone and camera

2. Use Geotag Security to scan your computer for geotags in photos and remove them – (this is free).

3. Use Geotag Security PRO to monitor your computer for new photos with geotags and remove them automatically. (Cost $19.95)

The software is important if you plan to share other people’s photos that have geotags.  Be smart and tell ALL OF YOUR GIRLFRIENDS!