Crime Tip from Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger:


The Threat of Geotagging on Social Network Sites

Geotagging is a feature on smart phones that geographically tags the location and time a photograph is taken. When that photograph is uploaded to a social website, the information is a few clicks away. This geographic information poses serious threats to citizens. For instance, if a mother takes a picture of her young daughter in her bedroom, and posts it to Facebook or Twitter, a sex offender could potentially find her daughter’s bedroom. Approximately 76 percent of American adults use their mobile devices to take pictures or video.

Geotagging can add geographical information to photographs, video, websites, SMS messages, RSS feeds, or tweets. People can now not only read what their friends are doing, but where they are. Social networking sites offer privacy options for the geotagging feature. Facebook allows users to limit who sees their location and Twitter has the option of turning on or off “adding your location” to a tweet.

Using Google Maps, a person’s whereabouts and path can be tracked using the data encoded in photographs taken, as long as the GPS is enabled when taking the picture with the phone or the geotagging tool is enable in photo settings.

Please check privacy settings when posting online and always: Think Before You Post.

More information about geotagging is available in Wikipedia.