You’ve probably heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when it comes to your cell phone photos it might be more. As most of you know, when you take a photo with a digital camera it will save the data from the image into a image file on the camera, and this file can then be copied to your computer or uploaded directly to a number of popular social media sites. An image is made up of thousands or millions of little dots called pixels and the data file stores the location and color of each dot, but what you may not know is that these image files can contain a lot more information.
Some of the data embedded into this file might be things like: type of phone, lens used, exposure used, colors used, and even the GPS location where the image was taken, and with the right tools anyone in the world can view this information if it’s stored online.
Earlier today I took a picture with my phone, then uploaded it to a website that can extract this information to see what it would show. The image below shows some of this data.
So far, it’s not too bad, and many of the images you find online and on facebook will show no more info than this. However, if an image is taken on a phone where geo-tracking is turned on, then the image file will contain the exact GPS coordinates, and this website will show those coordinates in google maps. When I scroll down to the bottom of the page this is what I see.
Wow, now that is revealing. With google maps, you can zoom down to the exact house where the image wast taken. I have edited the image above so that you won’t know my exact location, but the point is, you could unknowingly be putting unwanted info about yourself on the internet.
There is a bit of good news though. It is possible to turn off the geo-tracking on you camera. It may be different for different cameras, but on an android you need to start the camera, then open the settings, then uncheck the icon that looks like an upside down tear drop.