Mom scare: GPS on phone cameras identifying kids’ locations

I was sent a link via Facebook and an email from two separate mothers this week warning me to turn off the GPS function on my phone’s camera.

The concern is that there is software that can examine the meta data in posted pictures of your kids and find out exactly where the photos were taken and where your family hangs out.

I think this is a very legitimate warning to parents, although the news cast makes it seem more scary than it needs to be. There’s a simple 10-second solution for most phones, which the news cast explains at the very end after scaring you for the first 3.5 minutes.

So watch the video, check your phone and decide if you want the GPS meta data imbedded in your images. (I think it’s actually an advantage if you are using Mac’s iPhoto. I think it will match photos up by location through that meta data. Let me know if I am wrong on this function.)

My phone actually advises to keep the GPS off because it uses so much battery power.

And while I think the warning is worthwhile, I am equally fascinated by the way the mom warnings travel. The mom who sent the video via Facebook lives in Maryland and the other mom was a grandmother in Arizona. The news cast though looks like it was from Nov. 2010 so it took a while to circulate.

Have you gotten this warning this week? Did it come via Facebook? Will you disable the GPS on your phone camera?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania on ajc.com

65 comments Add your comment

some guy

August 26th, 2011
5:54 am

life must suck when you spend it cowering in your house from the big bad world.

TallMom

August 26th, 2011
6:48 am

Of course, the “bad guys” will know where you are just by seeing you there.

I seriously doubt the average predator is tech savvy enough to be trolling FB for public profiles, searching through their pics for kids and then finding the imbedded GPS coordinates. Then, lying in wait at those locations, hoping you return with your child, look away for a few minutes so they can snatch them.

Why go to all that trouble when they can just hang out at a park or volunteer for a child centered organization?

Honestly, there are enough TRUE worries out there…why create more?

Sk8ing Momma

August 26th, 2011
7:08 am

No worries here! I’d seen the warning over a year ago…IMO, it’s much ado about nothing!

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
7:08 am

Takes about two seconds. I disabled the “Location” in my iPhone months ago. Why would you leave it on?

To those saying TWG is paraniod,you must be technically challenged. It takes less than a minute to use a picture on Facebook to identify where it was taken.

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
7:17 am

@Pollyanna….er TallMom

Don’t want to help out the perves, so this is a link to a very harlmess “Geo Tagging” map.

http://www.flickr.com/map/

This one is of the whole globe, but there are maps that will break down the Geo Tag into longitude and lattitude.

If you think saving a picture from Facebook to a computer then uploading it onto one of these apps is being to “technically savvy” for your average predator then you are very naive. Longitude and Lattitude coordinates can be entered into any TomTom or Garmin to get directions.

Turning off the Geo Tagging on your phone only takes a few seconds. Why wouldn’t you do it?

shaggy

August 26th, 2011
7:37 am

This will never be a problem for me.
I use the phone for making, and listening to, sounds made by actual vocal cords of human beings. I use a…..hold on to your seats folks…c a m e r a for taking pictures, when I want to…ssssshhhhhh…it’s coming,,,hold on….take p i c t u r e s.
Yes, go ahead and call me old fashioned for actually separating these life events. I actually have a crappy camera on my phone…imagine that…for when the ‘branes bump into each other (string theory), which doesn’t happen. I hear Anthony Weiner is a proficient phone photographic artist. I’ll leave that phone+picture stuff to …well, the rest of you.

Plus, I am going to now give jarvis chills: I have a bada$$ Cannon, circa 1990’s, which uses da-ta-da-da-da…film. You couldn’t buy it from me, and I’ll shoot with it until you pry it from my cold, dead, hands. The depth and overall quality has yet to be matched, by any digital pretender that I have ran against to this day. 20 megapixel?…bring it on baby. It’s about touch and “eye”.

See, I don’t have a problem with this.

shaggy

August 26th, 2011
7:39 am

Theresa,

I had a post…evaporate into your blog nexus. Find it if you want, but I sure ain’t gonna re-write it. It wasn’t profane, although I wanted it to be.

A

August 26th, 2011
7:46 am

How about don’t post your kids photos online. Simple. One of the many reasons you won’t find me on Facebook. Instead post them to Picasa or something with a private URL and send that to your friends and family.

KAW

August 26th, 2011
7:51 am

Most phones come with geo tagging already turned off. And, if it is not, you receive a message asking if you want to turn it off. While I agree it is important to turn it off especially if you are going to be posting pictures online. However, I think the news clip is another example of the media making too big of a deal about something. Especially when the majority of phones are bought with the geo tagging off.

karma

August 26th, 2011
7:51 am

ok, don’t want to scare anybody, but apparently at the end of some driveways are numbers that gives the bad guys your street address, quick go down there now and paint over them. I’ll keep reading facebook for more parenting help because i’m freakin clueless. hey, did ya’ll know that at the back of your SUV are model numbers and manufacturer logos and bad guys can tell what kind of SUV ya’ll drive and stuff. Oh, and guys, listen, don’t shop at Krogers. they have a sign over there door that says Krogers, the bad guys will know that you shop there when they see you walk in there. y’all is that helicopter thang following me? no, don’t answer.

JJ

August 26th, 2011
8:05 am

HAHAHA and LOL and some of these comments.

It’s really VERY simple. TURN. IT. OFF.

And, it’s the media’s JOB to scare people. It’s what they do best. That’s why I don’t watch the news. In my house we call the news The 5:00 Body Count.

Jeff

August 26th, 2011
8:06 am

TWG, luv ya, and understand what you’re saying. But don’t be one of those moms that this path leads to. It makes it impossible to have a personal relationship with anyone.

Serial killers and child abducters seemed to find kids all throughout history, even before facebook, cell phones, neighborhood watch zones, etc.

homeschooler

August 26th, 2011
8:10 am

My phone had the tagging on when I bought it. I remember thinking it was pretty cool, in case I forgot where or when a pic had been taken.
I agree that the media is making too big a deal about this, but you really can’t be too careful when it comes to sexual predators. And you have to admit, it’s just creepy. I don’t even like typing my address into Google Earth and seeing my house pop up. I will turn the function off on my camera.

TallMom

August 26th, 2011
8:17 am

Molestation and kidnappings are usually by someone the family KNOWS…a relative, neighbor, family friend, teacher, etc.

As for turning off that function on my phone? I probably would…if I had a cell phone. WHAT?!?!?! That’s right…I do not have a cellphone!! OH EM GEEEE!!

Living just fine without one!

Van Jones

August 26th, 2011
8:17 am

If someone were so inclined I think they would frequent places where they could take their pick of the kids (as repulsive as that may sound) rather than see a picture and then try to find out where it was taken, how often is the kid there, and spend hours/days waiting for the kid to come back.
I would imagine pervs to be like burglers – on the lookout for an easy target… any target as long as it’s easy.

JATL

August 26th, 2011
8:40 am

Good lord -I just refuse to worry about this! There are pervs everywhere who have been abducting children forever without technology. I believe I’ve said this before, but my father and I honestly feel like my mother “worried” herself into her brain tumor. She worried about EVERYTHING -including stuff like this that is barely above pure paranoia. Don’t do that to yourself! Anxiety and worry truly are horrible for your health!

Intetestingly enough, this feature of locating kids using phone GPS and the photo GPS for missing kids and runaways has been touted as a huge SAFETY benefit by many companies and child safety experts (you know -the ones who get paid to be helicopters).

KAW

August 26th, 2011
8:40 am

Sorry about the typos, bad grammar and incomplete sentences in my previous post. I wasn’t fully awake and did not have my coffee yet. However, it looks like you guys got the point I was trying to make.

homeschooler

August 26th, 2011
8:40 am

“Molestation and kidnappings are usually by someone the family KNOWS…a relative, neighbor, family friend, teacher, etc.”

This reminds me of the episode of South Park where the parents hear this and they are so paranoid about their kids getting hurt (by them) they turn them out to fend for themselves. It was so funny.

Anyway, this is true but there are cases of child trafficking where kids are singled out because of how they look. I really do agree that it’s overkill. But it’s easy to turn off the function so I will.

The Big Bopper

August 26th, 2011
8:47 am

Mom scare:

Seriously, WTF? Can we do without the angst & drama, please?

Lori

August 26th, 2011
8:52 am

Um, Theresa, I think you might want to review these posts and delete the ones at the top. Kinda vulgar!

mom scare!!!!

August 26th, 2011
8:55 am

But she doesn’t think twice about posting her kids vacation, first day of school pics, etc on her blog!!!! naw, no pervs on ajc.com, nope.

DB

August 26th, 2011
8:55 am

@JATL: My daughter had a roommate during summer school last yearl, whose parents were apparently prototypical helicopter parents. The girl was provided with a GPS-enabled phone, and told that, even though she was a college student living two hours away, she was expected to be in her room by midnight each night — and told that they would check her phone’s GPS at “random” times to make sure she was there, because they had the lat/long coordinates of the dorm.

Funny, the GPS coordinates of the dorm didn’t tell the parents that their curfew-inflicted daughter was smoking pot and spending most nights three floors down with her boyfriend.:-) And if she wanted to go out after midnight, the phone stayed safely in the dorm, while she partied happily elsewhere. :-)

Some parents are so clueless.

mom scare!!!!

August 26th, 2011
8:57 am

She’s busy throwing away her kids monogrammed clothes, cant have the bad guys knowing her kids initials.

catlady

August 26th, 2011
9:14 am

I guess I would worry about this if my kids were the kids of the President or something. Otherwise, I am not going to spend my time looking around like I think everyone is out to get me (sound of the helicopters landing kicks in).

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 26th, 2011
9:15 am

I think you guys are misreading me on this one: I put mom scare in the headline because I do think this is over dramatized — It’s meant sarcastically.

I am afraid of a lot of things but this on isn’t one that bothers me personally because I don’t keep the GPS on on my phone.

With that said, I just wanted to let moms and dads know this was a possibility so they could act if they wanted to.

Finally, I really was fascinated at the way warnings are spread. That video is pretty old and to get it twice from two different parts of the WU in one week is interesting.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 26th, 2011
9:18 am

Jarvis — I pulled it out

MJG — I also rescued a bunch of recipe info on the other blog so look back to see that

Jesse's Girl

August 26th, 2011
9:21 am

Shaggy….I could kiss you. Brilliant post.

JJ

August 26th, 2011
9:23 am

What about people who put those “family” stickers on the back window of their car? You can see how many kids they have, what animals they have, and sometimes, even their last name is on top of all that……that to me is major advertising about your family.

Or the soccer ball/cheerleading/football sticker with the kids’ name on it and what school they go to.

Predators can just follow you home….LOL. They have your name, how many kids you have, and what types of animals are in your home……

Denise

August 26th, 2011
9:35 am

@DB – I went to high school and college with a girl who had a curfew in college…and our parents were EIGHT hours away. This was pre-everyone-had-a-cell-phone days (early 90s) but I’m sure if she had one her parents would have tracked her by GPS/lat-lon coordinates down to the square inch. They called her randomly after 12:30 to make sure she was in her room. One day her father even had MY father call and confirm that she spent the night with me because she was locked out of her dorm. I gave my father some probably impolite words about getting me involved in such foolishness and not to call me again with BS! LOL!

On topic – I think everyone has his or her own level of paranoia when it comes to children and no one is right or wrong. We have seen some pervs get more tech savvy in stalking and coming in contact with children. There are still the garden variety steal-them-from-the-park and your-mama’s-nasty-boyfriend and your-dirty-old-uncle pervs. These days there is no telling where the threat is coming from and how you handle it is personal.

My brother’s soon-to-be ex wouldn’t let the kids ride their bikes even in the cul du sac – they had to ride in the driveway. (Really? How stupid! Only 3 cars can fit in driveway. I think it’s because she didn’t want to watch them when they were younger and she just got in the habit of saying no by the time they got older but that’s just me…I don’t really like her so I don’t give her the benefit of the doubt.) My grandmother was a nervous wreck about everything – God forbid you were 20 minutes late getting to her house – so we always had to have someone older with us when we walked to church on Sundays or we couldn’t go to the park alone (just my younger brother and I); to be fair, you never knew WHO (like the TEENAGERS…oooohhhh) was going to be in the park and what they were going to be doing (like SMOKING…oooohhhhh) and as a parent she had to kind of curb our exposure to things when we were smaller.

Now, I also had the dirty-old-uncle who, I found out later on in life, molested my mother and her sister. He was the one that everyone “knew about” so no one would let their children go inside over there. I never KNEW why my grandmother would never let me go inside without her. This was her sister’s house! And if we were inside, I had to stand or sit next to her at all times. She even walked me to the bathroom and stood by the door. No camera phones in the 80s, just regular pervs.

JATL

August 26th, 2011
9:36 am

@DB -both classic and priceless! Geez -no wonder little darling was puffing ganja and exploring her sexual freedoms -with parents like that she needed some hard-core escapism ;-)

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
9:39 am

@Shaggy, I love old things. I’m not a photog type of guy, but I have no problem with your preference.

I can’t think of anything I’d want more than a 1970’s era classic car. Cup holders are for chumps. Give me a block 350, bench seats, and head room in the back (clearly I mean horizontal head room) any day over the digital dashboards, cupholders and traction control any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I get feeling nostalgic for the things we loved in our youth.

Feeling that way doesn’t me crazy at all. It’s when people on here say untrue things about the way people raise kids now or how kids today are so much worse than they were 20 years ago. There have always been good and bad people, good and bad parents, and good and bad policies. Folks just like to look at the old days through rose tinted glasses. That’s just not me.

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
9:45 am

Man….I butchered that.

Sylvania

August 26th, 2011
9:46 am

I, too, am one of the few people left on the face of the earth who uses my cell phone for one reason and one reason only – to make phone calls.

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
9:46 am

@TWG, That’s what she said.

Lady Strange

August 26th, 2011
9:48 am

I’m not going to worry about it. I keep my GPS on my phone turned off unless I need to use the map to navigate somewhere, and even then it hardly works cause it can’t find a GPS signal.

@jarvis – I’d love to have a 1978 Bandit Edition Trans-Am. I’ll have one someday, even if I’m 85 by the time it happens! Ha!

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
9:54 am

@Lady Strange, I love the Bandit’s car, but have you ever seen it in white and blue rather than the brown and gold. It’s a personal fav.

Becky

August 26th, 2011
9:55 am

I don’t worry about this stuff either..I’m like shaggy..Phone for talking, camera for pictures..

Funny that people are talking about kids at college.I have a coworker that has a 21 year old daughter in college 4 hrs. away..When she comes home for breaks, she has to call her Mother every third exit..If she doesn’t, the Mom is calling her to find out where she is..If she stops anywhere, she has to call and tell her Mom exactly where she is..It’s not even 10:00 and they are talking on the phone for the 4th time since 8:00.. Her Mom called her this morning to ask her what she was gonna wear to school today..Really??

Then the really sad part about it, is when she hangs up with the daughter, she’ll call home to tell her Mother everything that she just talked about with the child at school..She calls her Mom 4-5 times per day and “talks” to the dog and cat..

@JJ..I wondered about that also..I heard a local lawyer talk about that on the radio once, he said that is a big NO NO..

JJ

August 26th, 2011
10:04 am

My daughter has to check in with me when she is travelling. I don’t mean when she goes over to a friends house or the mall, but when she is driving down to Eastman to see friends and spend the night. Just call when you reach your desination so I know you aren’t in a ditch.

@Jarvis – I had an 84 Trans Am, fully loaded, t-tops, etc. I LOVED that car (my ex wrecked and totalled it out, broke my heart). My two dream cars are a 67 Camero SS & a 65 ‘Stang…….If I ever come into money, one or both of those will be in my driveway. Fully restored of course….!!

motherjanegoose

August 26th, 2011
10:12 am

I do not have this app my cell phone….anyone surprised? I do need a cell phone and could not live without it as I depend on it while I am out and about for work.

I took some pictures of a waterfall in NC last week and sent them to my husband and sister.
My daughter and husband were certain that my sister took them, as they knew I would never be able to take the pictures and actually send them too. I did it! Wow…I am making baby steps into technology. I still cannot work the remote here and so I do not watch TV when I am home alone. Just give me a good book and I will be fine. I could give up our TV and have no problem with it.
I could not give up my computer.

@ shaggy and jarvis…my two CRINGE when I say INSTAMATIC CAMERA and roll their eyes.
Anyone else remember?

TWG…thanks I will look for the recipes.

Denise and Becky….I emailed you about getting together in a few weeks…let me know!

motherjanegoose

August 26th, 2011
10:16 am

I ask my daughter to text me when she arrives at UGA, just to make sure she arrives safely. She will usually call me for a quick chat or send a quick text every day or two…no big deal. As far as my son….DB…is in charge of making sure he is alive and that is about it…if we hear from him once a week…it is a big deal!

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
10:40 am

@JJ, I’d have divorced her too.
I love the 67′ SS.

JJ

August 26th, 2011
10:43 am

@Jarvis – I’m a woman…..I divorced HIM….LOL

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 26th, 2011
11:01 am

@TWG…I’m relieved to see that “this on [sic] isn’t one that bothers” you….It shouldn’t because you’ve already posted pics of your kids and where you live…you don’t have to worry about people surreptitiously getting the info described in the warning…you’re handing it over freely.

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
11:03 am

Haha….I know you’re a woman….man the sexism is just spewing from my subconcious.

Denise

August 26th, 2011
11:06 am

TWG – my post was eaten.

jarvis

August 26th, 2011
11:08 am

@JJ, have you looked at the 2011 SS. Also a gorgeous car.
http://2011-camaros.info/images/2011_camaro_ss_1.jpg

JJ

August 26th, 2011
11:21 am

@Jarvis – Yes it is beautiful, but I want the older original….

mystery poster

August 26th, 2011
11:30 am

@JJ
My grandfather has a 65 Mustang bought brand new in 65. I think it must be pretty rare to have a one owner 65 mustang.

Lady Strange

August 26th, 2011
11:47 am

@jarvis – I have, the white/blue is beautiful. But the black/gold is my personal favorite Trans-Am. I wouldn’t mind one of both! a ‘73 white/blue and a ‘78 black/gold, only in my dreams.

shaggy

August 26th, 2011
12:53 pm

Great! While I was away, the discussion swayed to a much more important topic, “American muscle cars”.
The king of them all is the 1967 Shelby Cobra, 427…I was once disciplined (in a distant universe and read whupped for disciplined) for looking under the hood of a cherry red one. My little maniac buddies and I were warned, but we just HAD to pull the pins and see the majesty that was making our ears vibrate every time coach pulled up in it. He caught us red-handed, soon we were red-butted. It was worth it.