Since the launch of Facebook, and increasingly alongside the surging popularity of smartphones, social media has become a persistent presence in our daily lives.
Specific platforms may wax and wane in popularity, and we’ll continue to level criticisms against the technology as a whole. But we probably can expect social sharing platforms to remain a steadfast component of our lives, for better or worse.
However, while social media sites offer a convenient way to share content among large groups of friends, or even the general public, some security considerations shouldn’t be taken for granted. One that’s often overlooked is the risk posed by geotagging technologies, which go hand-in-hand with mobile social media apps.
For years now, social platforms have offered users the ability to “getotag” posts, meaning those users can indicate where they are posting from by using the location features of their mobile devices. Security experts have advised against using such features in many situations. Such information can, for instance, indicate when a user is away from their home, making them vulnerable to theft or vandalism.
Even worse, some social media platforms give away location specifics beyond just the basics. Recently, for instance, analysts discovered that geotagged Twitter posts included location information including specific geographic coordinates. Thus, Twitter users whose tweets fall into the hands of ill-intentioned hackers may need to worry that cyber criminals have the exact locations of their homes, workplaces and other locations they would rather not have on public record.
It’s important to think before posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other network. And any user should consider the following before finishing that upload:
- Could your post put anyone at risk? If you are posting a photo with other individuals, particularly minors, it’s especially important to consider whether it’s safe to disclose your party’s location.
- Are you in a private space? You may not want the location of your home, or a friend’s home, to be accessible in your online record.
- Is geotagging turned on? Do you know how to turn it off?
- Have you checked your privacy settings? You don’t want location information, as well as other sensitive data, available to the public.