Uploading family photos: why you may be uploading more than memories

Hands up if you have ever taken a photo of your child on your smartphone and then uploaded it to your social media profile (such as Facebook or Instagram)? Obviously I can’t see you, but I’m guessing there are a few of you out there sitting by your computer with your hand up in the air at the moment. And that is great. What a fantastic way to share your child’s progress and achievements with your family and friends. I have family interstate and I love stalking their Facebook profile to see what the children are up to (especially seeing as the airlines have priced me out of flying over to visit them regularly!)

But… if you are going to upload these happy snaps, please take the time to read this blog and/or watch this video –


When photos are taken on a smartphone, a whole load of data is embedded into the digital makeup of that photo. One of the bits of the data load includes GPS coordinates of where that photo was taken in the real world. And more often than not, the location is your home, a family or friends’ house, your child’s school, or a favourite park or playground. There is now software out there that can scan these photographs and extract that location information. In other words – strangers can find out where you and your children live, and where they frequently visit.

This video may be outdated (ie uploaded in 2010 – that is centuries ago in the world of social media), however the technology around today is anything but outdated. It is scary to think that people can learn so much about your activities and whereabouts from an innocent family photo!

So, what can you do? I can see two options:

  • Don’t post photographs online (not ideal when you want to keep family and friends up-to-date with important milestones)
  • Turn off location tracking on your smartphone

Turning off location tracking varies from phone to phone, but generally speaking if you go into your phone settings and select the “Location Services” option you will find the options for turning this feature off. However, this may affect how GPS/Google Maps works on your phone, so I would suggest keeping Location Services turned off and only turning it on when you need to map out a route to somewhere.

Want to know even more about geo tagging, location services and the implications of photographs being online? Consider attending our “Privacy, Safety & Digital Reputation” seminar“.


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