One recently developing trend in online environments, most notably social media sites, is the use of geotagging to let others know exactly where you are located. Geotagging, or geolocation, as it is sometimes referred to, utilizes specific data on your computer or mobile device to determine your current location, and then feeds this through specific GPS algorithms to display it on a map.
For businesses, geotagging can be a wonderful marketing tool to use to increase awareness of the location of the business. Geotags make it easier for potential customers and clients to find the business whenever they do a local search for particular products and services. For instance, you want to find a data recovery service in Toronto, and those with geotagging enabled are often displayed at the top of search results, along with a map.
However, for individuals, the use of geotagging can open up specific risks which some people may not even know about.Geotags are often directly tied into the privacy and security settings for each online site where they are being used. By default, in many cases, geotags are automatically enabled and turned on. Besides social media and online sites, geotagging is becoming a relevant part of certain software applications. Even Microsoft has incorporated geotagging features into its latest version of Windows!
To illustrate better how geotags work, let’s look at a few examples below and then discuss how using geotagging creates personal risks.
You and a group of your friends are heading out for a fun night on the town. You decide you want to share details about your exciting night out by “checking-in” on various social media sites to let your other friends know where you are currently at and what you are doing. While this feature is fun to use, unless you have configured your privacy and security settings to only share your geotagging information with those on your friends’ lists, now anyone that accesses your social media posts knows exactly where you are and who you are with, including potential cyber stalkers.
You and your family have just arrived at your resort for your family vacation in sunny Florida. You decide it would be a great idea to “check-in” to let all of your family and friends know you are enjoying a warm wintertime escape. However, if you have not configured your privacy and security settings and who can see your geotags, what you may not even realize is you just told everyone online where you are, and that your home is essentially vacant. You could easily come home and find you have been the victim of a burglary.
As you can see from these examples, the use of geotags for personal reasons could create certain risks. Therefore, it is vital you take the time to always review your geotag settings on all of your social media and online sites, as well as applications.
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