Smart Phone Safety Tip: Turn Off Location Settings

This article came from Topeka’s News Channel 13, and we thought our clients and friends might also be interested . . .

Over the last couple of days, many parents on Facebook have shared a video of a news report about a security risk in sharing photos online that were taken on a smartphone.

That report is actually three years old, but while social networks have made sharing photos safer, it’s still a good idea to turn off the locations settings on your phone.

The video, from a Kansas City TV news report in 2010, claims photos uploaded on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites contain metadata about the location of where the photo was taken, right down to the room.

The concern, especially among parents, is in a program that can use that metadata to reveal a map to a child’s home, school or play area.

If that was the case in 2010, it’s not anymore. Facebook and Twitter strip that metadata from photos you upload, so the version of the photos you and the public can see online won’t include that location data.

But there’s still some truth to the report: The photos you take on your smartphone are “geotagged” and do contain that information — if your location settings are turned on.

The good news is that they’re simple to disable. Here’s how to do it, depending on your type of phone:

  • iPhone (iOS 6)
    • Go to Settings, then Privacy, then Location Services.
    • Set your Camera app to Off.
      * You can keep it on for other apps, such as Maps. You’ll need it if you want to use your phone’s GPS function. As long as the setting on your Camera app is off, your photos won’t be geotagged with locations.
  • iPhone (iOS 4 or 5)
    • Go to Settings, General, and Location Services.
    • Set your Camera app to Off.*
  • Android (4.2)
    • Start your Camera app.
    • Hit the Settings button.
    • Go to GPS Tag, and set it to Off.
  • Android (Older versions)
    • Start your Camera app.
    • Hit the Settings button.
    • Go to Store Location, and set it to Off.
  • Blackberry
    • Open Camera.
    • Set Location to Disabled.
  • Windows Phone
    • Go to Settings, then Applications.
    • Go to Pictures & Camera, and set “Include location (GPS) info in Pictures you take” to Off.