What is Geotagging?

Geotagging is the process of attaching geographical identification information (such as latitude and longitude coordinates and place names) to photographs, videos, websites, RSS feeds, etc.  On your smartphone, this is referred to as ‘Location Services’ and is an option that can be turned on or off.

According to Apple’s website:

“Location Services allows location-based apps and websites (including Maps, Camera, Safari, and other Apple and third-party apps) to use information from cellular, Wi-Fi1, Global Positioning System (GPS) networks, and iBeacons3 to determine your approximate location.”

Location services allows apps and websites to determine your location for all sorts of useful purposes like recommending a nearby restaurant, providing you with an accurate weather forecast, or providing driving directions.

So what’s the big concern for parents?  Well, if you (or your child) take a photograph with a device with ‘Location Services’ on and upload it to a social media site like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, anyone could potentially pinpoint the location of where the photo was taken.

Think about that for just a minute.

So we teach our kids to never reveal personal information online (like our home address), yet as parents we think nothing of taking a picture of them on the first day of school and posting it on Facebook. A savvy user would simply need to download a plugin for their browser that would allow them to print a Google map of the exact location of your house.

A recent news report referred to  Geotagging as “Today’s biggest risk online.” The concern is not just about pictures we post. There are many apps that use location services for the purpose of finding people in your area that you may want to meet (like the dating app, Tinder, for example) and this can be very risky for kids. You don’t want your kids using apps that allow strangers to find them easily.