Keeping Your Online Photos Private

I have to admit that I wouldn’t have thought of this if I hadn’t read about it, although if you’re a techie, this probably won’t surprise you.

According to a blog post at Come As You Are, there’s a potential privacy issue that results from something called EXIF data being added to your photos. Most digital cameras add information about the photo, such as the date and time it was taken, as well as camera settings, and a thumbnail of the photo. A few phones also add geotagging to photos, which is when the latitude and longitude of the location where the photo was taken is added.As phones get smarter, I expect to see this more and more often.

What that means, though, is that when you upload that sexy photo to, say, a dating website, someone with the know-how can dig that info out of the file. They can also extract the date and time that the photo was taken. Many dating sites simply strip it out when you upload your photo. But if you’re concerned about it, it’s pretty easy to do it yourself:

In Windows XP,right clock on the photo and select “properties” and then “summary”. On a Mac, select the photo in the Finder and then choose “Get info”. Then you can view and edit the EXIF file.

You can view and edit the EXIF data by right clicking on your photo and selecting ‘properties’ and then the ‘summary’. If you’ve got a Mac, you can view and edit EXIF data by selecting your photo and then ‘get info’ in the Finder. If you really want to strip the info, you can  use a meta-data removal tool like Exifer or JPEG & PNG Stripper.

If you keep your face out of your online photos, you may also want to strip the EXIF data out, too. We’ve seen how data that seems anonymous can sometimes be correlated with other seemingly-anonymous data to make it possible to identify folks. Apparently, safer sex starts well before you actually meet someone.


Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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