|Published:||Oct 31, 2013 3:41 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Oct 31, 2013 6:45 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - You would never knowingly let a criminal into your house, let along your kid's bedroom, but WINK News has uncovered you are doing just that.
When millions of us post photos to social media everyday, we leave behind a trail of digital bread crumbs into our lives.
Just like all young mothers, Caterina Vega of Naples loves to post photos to social media. But she had no idea that the picture could lead someone right to her home.
"That is really scary," Vega said, "I have three kids, I don't want anybody to see where they are all the time."
When you take a picture with your smartphone it stores more than just the photo. It also stores a lot of metadata, which includes the latitude and longitude of where you were standing when you took the picture.
To demonstrate we had Vega take a picture standing by her pool in Collier County. We then took that metadata and plugged it into Google Earth.
"It even shows the location where I was standing," Vega gasps.
It's called geotagging. WINK News Call For Action went to the Orlando offices of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to meet Special Agent Steve Brenton. He taught us that geotagging is pretty easy to learn.
"It's possible to tell the entire world where they were when they took that picture," Brenton said.
"I've seen pictures taken inside a child's bedroom and it literally shows me the corner of the house where the picture was taken. That, to me, is alarming and a major cause for concern."
It's not just parents and kids that should be concerned. How often have you seen pictures on social media of a friend showing off their new house. Complete with pictures of all their fancy electronics.
"Burglars can be casing your house and it doesn't have to be outside your house anymore, they can do it through social media," Brenton said.
The good new is, after public outcry, the most popular social media sites started automatically stripping the metadata from your photos. However, if you email those photos, or use a new, untested site, that information is stored.
Luckily, it's easy to stop. Just turn off the GPS tracking on your smartphone's camera. You can find out how by going to this link.
"Specifically the GPS function on the camera, shut it off, because you don't want to let the whole world know where your kid is at all times," Brenton said.
For good measure, at the end of our interview with Vega she turned off the GPS on her camera and we could no longer track down where she took the photo.
"Good. I'll keep it off."