Dangers of the iPredator - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Dangers of the iPredator

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If you've ever taken a picture with your smart phone you might want to pay attention. With the snap of the camera and the click of a button,  your photo is now online  for the entire world to see.

What exactly are you showing everyone when you post a photo? You may be very surprised.

"If your smart phone is equipped with a GPS chip on it, then it constantly updates its information it gets from the satellite. Your phone can be tracked to its exact GPS location, along with any photo that you post." Dr. Natarajan Meghanathan shows just how easy it is to pinpoint where a photo was taken. "This is a photo that was taken from a smart phone that has a GPS labeled, so what happens all the latitude and longitude, GPS information gets embedded in this photo a metadata," says Dr. Meg.

One photo can hold a large amount of information which is called metadata,  it can show what the model of your phone is, the time and date the picture was taken, if the flash was used and your location.

"If this photo has that information about the longitude and latitude, it can pull out and say this photo was taken at JSU,” says Dr. Meg.

Just a simple download and click, we were able to find out that photo was taken at the John A. Peoples building on Jackson State's campus.

“We just want parents to know that that technology is out there those photographs, digital photographs, contain information - where they can get where that location is,” says Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

There is some good news for social media users. "Facebook does a good thing with stripping that information before someone posts that photo on Facebook. Even if that image has that information Facebook and even Twitter, I think, strip that information.”

News Channel 12 decided to put social media sites  and your safety to the test.  Here's a “selfie” that was posted on Facebook,  using Picasa, an image editing software, I was able to download the picture and click here to find the location, because the metadata was stripped you can't see where that photo was taken, we found the same thing happened with Twitter.  However, there Is a downside to not having the metadata..

"So someone could take your photo and market It as their own."

According to Dr. Meg, with all that information stripped from your photos, the copyright could be stripped as well.           

However Attorney General Jim Hood says you may not want to trust that those social media sites are stripping all of that data. "Some websites may strip the information but you may get on another aspect of that website and it doesn't do that,” says Hood.

To be safe, Dr. Meg suggests downloading a software that allows you to delete your location from the photo before posting it.  Or, users can simply turn off the location services on their phone by going to setting, privacy, location services and off. 

Dr. Meg was able to track the JSU photo because he downloaded the photo directly from his phone to his computer. No metadata was stripped in the process of downloading that photo.

If you don't, you are running the risk that prying eyes could turn your smart phone into a roadmap to your home.


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