Here is an informative and helpful tip to keep you, your family, and your businesses safe in cyberspace.
Today’s topic: Location Sharing on Social Media
Picture this…you are enjoying an adventurous vacation, thousands of miles away in a remote location in the Rockies. The scenery is beautiful, so you decide to post a picture on your social media feed to showcase to others what they are missing out on. But you also just told the world you are away from home. Next thing you know, a scammer is extorting a family member on the phone, telling them you are injured or in jail and need thousands of dollars immediately to assist your situation.
Today, it is a common practice for social media apps to request your phone’s location to enable various features. From Snapchat’s Snap Maps that let you keep tabs on your friend’s locations, to Instagram’s Location Sharing that automatically tags locations in the headers of your pictures.
The risks of location sharing, however, are not always evident:
- If scammers know your location, they can use this information to extort loved ones for money.
- Camera apps often embed location information into the metadata of a picture, so if you take a picture of a valuable possession and post it online, you effectively tell potential thieves the location of the item.
Because of these risks, here are some questions to ask before allowing an application to access your location:
- Is the feature that requires location access something I need to use and is it worth giving the app access to my location to use this feature?
- What are the limits of who has access to my location data? Is it restricted to friends, friends of friends, or is it publicly available information?
- Before posting something that includes your location, ask the following questions:
- Could this information, based on the privacy of it, be used to harm either me or someone I know?
- Even if the location information is marked as private, what would be the consequences if a hacker were still able to access the location information?
If you decide to turn off geotagging for photos, here are a couple guides for both iPhone and Android:
Another question to consider is: do I need my location services turned on at all times? Many times, if you are not exercising or driving, you may find that you get little value from leaving your phone’s location services on. Consider turning off location services when not in use, as this will not only conserve battery life but also protect your privacy better.
Staying safe online is difficult, but by asking good questions and making minor changes to your online behavior, you can protect both you and your loved ones from harm.