Photos can tell where you live

MoccasinAugust 12, 2010

I just read a NYT article about the geotagging feature on cell phones with GPS features built in. Pretty interesting stuff.

And it can get you into a difficult situation if someone is searching for info about who to rob, who to stalk, where you hang out, where your kids go to school, what kind of furnishings and technology they might find in your house.

So I'm thinking ALL of you should read this, and then make sure you are not slicing your own wrists, endangering your privacy as well as personal safety. Also, a friend taking a photo at your house with the geotagging operable could do harm to you as well.

Read it, and then check to see if you are safe. In the article, they mentioned CraigsList and Twitter and Flickr as places which carry the geotagging in their photos...if you have the info with your photos, it will be uploaded.

Check it out. Let me know what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Privacy compromised by GEOTAGGED PHOTOS

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Thanks ML. We do not have a cell phone as fancy as this kind but I did change my flicker settings to just stop the exif settings. It is only the camera settings. Even so I am not so sure I want some one seeing that. They will know I know nothing about taking pictures. Hehehee

I am not sure on the Craigs listing I have up because I took it with the camera.No phone involved. Will have to go look at that to see if there is this tracking on it or if I can even find it. Good to be alert.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 4:26PM
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i certainly knew nothing about that stuff. my camera is 10 yrs old... would it have that on it?

photobucket? does it have to be in the photo before put out there to show up? not sure if the article said...

I will email my son about it - he puts pics of his kids on facebook...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 5:48PM
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Thanks for posting this. When I got my new iphone a few months ago, the first thing I did was to disable the GPS function. I didn't want to make it easy for anyone to track me. I sure didn't know about embedded info in pictures though.

Things are getting so far out of control it just boggles my mind. If I were younger I'd probably choose to move out in the middle of no where in grid.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 6:12PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I noticed this when I was fairly new to GW--we were talking about satellite imaging and looking up old addresses. At about the same time, I looked at pictures in an album link posted on another forum, and noticed a 'balloon' tag on a map on the right of the screen. Being curious (read nosy), I checked the street name against a satellite image, and found an updated pic of the member's home exterior (recognizable from the GW post), with vehicles in the driveway, the member's house #, pics of neighbor's houses, complete with a realtor's 'For Sale' sign in one yard. Was the map I saw part of the geo-tagging feature?

With reverse searches, I can imagine that a glib criminal could get much more info, with just these few leads.

I considered leaving a message on the post, but I thought it might be better not to call attention to the information available. The member didn't have an email adrs listed, but I don't know if I'd have left a message anyway--I was afraid I'd sound creepy.

And possibly the member was aware of the feature--there are people who put their names and/or addresses on their albums, and then post links. Maybe I'm a little paranoid, but that seems ill-advised to me.

Thanks, ML, for bringing this issue to our attention.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 8:31PM
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I have a smartphone with the geotagging feature, and I love it! It really helps when you forget where you took the picture.

I wouldn't be too concerned about bad people finding your house and looking at the pics. The honest truth is that if someone knows your address, OR last name, they can find all the information they would like through the county assessor's webpage. Most property information is public record.

In addition, do keep in mind that the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of break-ins and burglaries are smash and go...i.e. a druggie wants some jewelry to get the next hit.

I'd be much more worried about some suspicious weirdo casing houses in person on my street.

I wouldn't worry too much. Chances are higher that you'll get car jacked than some weirdo on the internet choosing your house, out of all of them available, to hit.

I do worry sometimes about all these features that make us trackable and believe me, I would live out in the woods "off the grid" if I had the money and didn't have family here in Cleveland. I think about it often.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:01AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

"if someone knows your address, OR last name, they can find all the information they would like through the county assessor's webpage."

Excellent argument for not putting your address, OR last name on albums and photo sharing accounts.

Speaking of being carjacked, I rec'd this info in an email just this morning:

>On the way to Canton , driving on Michigan Avenue , on Thursday morning, I
>saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. I
>did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But
>when I got to my destination, I called the Canton PD and they were going to check
>it out. This is what I was told..
> >Several things to be aware of .. gangs and thieves, are now plotting different
>ways to get a person to "stop" their vehicle. There is a gang initiation reported
>by the local police department that gangs are placing a car seat by the road...with
>a fake baby in it...waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the baby.
>Note that the location of this car seat will usually be beside a wooded or grassy
>(field) area ...and the person - woman - will be dragged into the woods- beaten
>and raped- usually left for dead.
> >

I would add: You've probably all rec'd emails warning about various tactics used to distract drivers--be suspicious of any unusual activity, especially if you are alone at night, or in an isolated area.

It's too bad one would have to question the natural response to go to someone's 'aid.'

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:59AM
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Well, we can't live in fear all day, either. There has to be some balance. Taking proper precautions throughout your day should be enough to make most of us safe.

I live right in the city, here in Cleveland, and to avoid carjacking, I always stop with ample room between myself and the car infront of me in case someone comes up to my car and I need to drive away. And of course, being an attentive driver, and taking a quick scan for any suspicious activity, also helps.

One thing I read makes perfect sense: There is NO REASON someone should come up to your car in traffic. EVER.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:11AM
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I felt this was worth reading if the experts in the field were raising the red flag about it. Being informed about the ways your privacy are being compromised, and taking steps to keep it from happening, is a proactive stance. Better than playing the ignorant potential victim. I do not live in fear that stuff will happen, but I like to be aware of what is going on around me. High tech crooks can scan the net for geotagged photos taken in specific neighborhoods, and in effect "case the joint" from a safe distance and know a lot without risking capture.

And why I mention the geotagging feature of cell phones, is that so many really young folks, like my granddaughters, freely text and snap pics, and post to their Facebook/Twitter/MySpace accounts continually, and their network of "friends" is truly awesome in size--far greater than the entire enrollment in their schools! I know there are stalkers and sexual predators out there who may focus on some unsuspecting young girl, and then we'd have a story like Natalie Holloways on our hands. Maybe we do not want to keep our young people from engaging in socializing with their friends, but we do want to remove the tiny information which the Internet predators can take advantage of with their readily available software. At least parents should be paying attention to the potential risks, and take any appropriate action to correct it.

I keep fairly current on the Urban Legends which features, and I recommend checking out rumors there to avoid needless worry about some fantasies you read in the FWD email circuits.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snopes:

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:00PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I finally found the one I rec'd way down at the bottom of the 'Gang Way' category. It's been circulating since late in 2009...I'm always 'a day late and a dollar short!' LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: car seat/egg on windshield rumors combined

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:43PM
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I don't care if it has been de-bunked by Snopes or any other source. I think it is a great idea to share such stories even if they are completely fabricated. Too many people walk around in a fog, completely oblivious to what is going on around them. Now that the "story" is out there, even if it is not based in fact, at least not yet, it might give some nare-do-well's an idea. Some of the kids in my neighborhood grwoing up would play the game where they would put a purse attached to a string alongside the road and would yank the string when a sucker would stop to check it out. That was all in fun but it proves people will stop for such ploys. Ted Bundy used a fake cast to lure one of his victims and claimed to have a stalled car to lure another. I don't promote paranoia, but being aware of your surroundings and being suspicious is always the right approach. I can think of several occassions where that approach saved me from theft at best and a beating at worse.

Not exactly on-topic, but about a year ago we had an incident near Columbia where a woman was driving her normal commute to work very early in the morning. The road passed a train track with a siding for an industrial plant. Workers off-loading a poisonous gas, I believe it was chlorine gas, messed up and released a very large cloud of gas. The woman, probably thinking it was fog, drove through it. The noxious gas choked off the oxygen supply to her car and her car stalled and coasted to a stop. She was found dead a few feet away from the car as she apparently tried to run out of the cloud. Another driver, coming from the opposite direction, saw the cloud, saw the tanker car, became suspicious and used his car to block the road and called 911. He saved other people's lives. I took the opportunity to chat with my children, one of whom was about to start driving, and told them how this could have been avoided. Fog suddenly pops up, look around. Is it fog or something else? If it's too late and the engine stalls, throw it in neuttral and allow the car to coast. With the car in gear it will slow down much faster, out of gear and maybe you can coast out the other side. In other words, be aware of your surroundings and THINK.

To satisfy the censors, I suppose I should remind everyone to practice these principles when traveling away from our smaller homes.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 8:10AM
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It was my intention that this thread should help us be aware when we upload photos of our homes and such to the albums that eventually allow us to put pictures HERE.

Flickr for one does put geotags to their photos, unless the info is not present with the original upload. I'm not sure of the other host sites.

But Scott, I've not noticed any censor's hand on any posts--except for the one time I unknowingly mentioned a large website which I thought was a good reference for gardening information, and was (I think by automatic machine) notified immediately that trying to mention "that place" would lead to suspension of my membership in Gardenweb.

As long as we play nice together, I submit that we are okay to take our discussions where they might lead. I agree that our forum, meaning Smaller Homes, is wide ranging and very open-minded. I truly enjoy the camaraderie of everyone here. Even though this is not a face-to-face medium, personalities come across.

Remember the old expression,"By your words so shall ye be known?" Pay attention to the words, and you will discover the person. Freud popularized that with his "freudian slips" but our culture is way further down the road than "slips" ......and attitudes really show. I like the unique personalities found through their words on the Smaller Homes forum.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:05AM
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    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 1:23PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Thanks, lazygardens, that is one well-traveled rumor! From Waukesha, to Canton, to Kansas City (and Chief Corbin sure is a cutie!)

ML, I checked with my computer literate better-half--he knew about the geo-tagging, and had disabled the GPS on our equipment.

I just hope that the next time I trip on a curb, I don't end up on Youtube! :-(

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 6:14PM
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