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Keka

Keka
Location
Arizona, USA
Birthday
March 10
Bio
Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star whose articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, Working Mother, Orion and many others. During her Sun Times years, she traveled with and interviewed the top rockers, film stars and other celebrities of the 70’s and 80’s. And dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once. Her latest book, "The Keka Collection," is available at Amazon.com http://amzn.com/1453845763 and Barnes and Noble--Kindle and Nook versions available. Her latest short story, Deadline, is a Kindle book availabled here: http://bit.ly/10pqtoV

FEBRUARY 7, 2011 12:51PM

I Can Stalk You--the perils of posting pics on the Net

Rate: 27 Flag

I learned a very scary thing today.

Some of you may have already heard this, but it was news to me--even the Mythbusters weren't aware of this one.  If you're using your cell phone or a digital camera to take pictures, you may be giving anyone who looks at those pictures not just your home address, but also, a "map" of your daily routines or the places you frequently visit. 

Yep, that's what I said.  If you post that gold bracelet you want to sell on Ebay or craiglist.com using a smartphone with GPS capabilities, or a digital camera, you may be telling a criminal how to get to your house and steal that bracelet.   Ditto that shot of that brand new car you're so proud of--if you posted it on your blog, a car thief now may know just where to find it.  Even that cute pic of your puppy posted on Facebook can be used to pinpoint exactly where that puppy and her "parents" live.

All they have to do is right-click on the photo to receive data that can lead them right to your house or anywhere else you've gone.  Some stalkers and other criminals have used Facebook photos to map out the daily routines of their victims.

Watch the video below for details, and then go to this site, for information about how you can shut this feature off in your cameras and smartphones:

I Can Stalk U Web Site

After using the instructions for Blackberry smart phones on that Web site (use the simple one posted last in the Blackberry section), I discovered that that the geotracking function was already disabled.   So that seems to be the default for those phones.  But I'm having my family and friends all use these instructions today, to make sure.

I still wonder about all the older pics I've posted from 'way back when, posted from other phones I've had.  But I'm going to do some checking over the next few weeks, to see if any of them need to come down.

Happy hunting, friends!   Better safe than sorry, though, right?

Note:  Gabby asked me about the things I use to help with Net security.  There are several.  First, I use Firefox, which allows you to use addins that block a lot of the culprits who track your info secretly.  But in addition to that, I use an addin you can find here:

Abine

And to back track and scrub my info off the sites I've long forgotten (they even got the pics of my house off Google and Bing), I used these guys--they're amazing:

Reputation Defender

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Thanks. Now I'm even more paranoid than I was yesterday. (Actually, thanks for heads up, Keka.)
Totally freaked me out when I got this info from a prof at a university I teach for online! So I immediately checked it out and found that site with the disabling info. I mean, who would ever think of this? We post all the time, especially on Facebook. My daughter's going to be frantic today, probably--she and her friends post pics from parties and whatnot almost daily!
Thanks for this information, I had no idea they have made us so easy to find.
rated with love
Why did we ever think all these gadgets were for our "good"?
It is one of the real dangers of the Internet I thought everyone knew about already.

It does not stop me from doing anything. I might be hit by a truck checking my outdoor mailbox too.
Mission, now that the function is disabled, I'm good to go! I love all this stuff, but it does make me wonder what else I don't know about when I post. And if the Mythbusters weren't aware of it, I guess a lot of us less tech savvy folks aren't. Judging from the emails I'm getting at home today, there are lots of people who had no idea!
Wow! Thank you for posting this...xox
thanks for posting this....bizarre that a photo can be tracked that way.
Bonnie, what really scares me are those sites like Photobucket, where people have hundreds of photos up. I have a few on sites like that, so I'm going to spend the week checking all those photos. I use them in articles and such, as I have here (luckily, my Berry's secure and all the ones here were from that phone), and I want to make sure they're safe. Big jobs ahead for some of us, though!
We give our privacy away to anyone for the taking, every single day. IP addresses, open wireless networks, credit cards, internet purchasing, web surfing, GPS functions, Facebook, photo, dating, and blogging sites, and certainly via the phones everyone loves - esp the ones with lots of apps. It's all data being collected, tracked, and used without your 'permission', but who the hell cares about that? If you use this media, you've essentially given de facto permission b/c you know it's happening and still use it.
One more reason to work under a nom, at the very least, if you have a job to protect, or family who are accessing your sites, or reading your posts, or (god forbid) someone who wants to play games with you in a not-very-nice way. Your life can be wrecked by all this info dropped willy-nilly all over the place Every. Single. Day. By you, the user.

Did you hear/see the news about the latest two people who've been fired b/c of their FB page photos and comments? One is a school teacher, with a "restricted" FB page, who was reported 'anonymously' to her school for having posted pix of her with a wine glass and a Guinness in her hand while on vacation in Ireland. She also had used the word bullshit on her FB page. Now she's out of a job.

No one ever listens to me. Sheesh....

::wanders off for a nap behind the dryer:: (oh, no. I'm channelling Tink!)
With all this technology, we might as well walk around nude with a tatoo with our addresses and phone numbers on our backsides! Thanks for the heads up!

Lezlie
I hear you, Gabby! I have so many little security thingies via Firefox and outside sources (I actually use one of those companies that scrubs your personal info off sites and whatnot) that I'm relatively safe. Seeing what that company came up with was really unsettling, though, I have to tell you! I got this long list of sites to check and ok for deletion, and I just gasped at the information that had been out there for years without my knowledge. So I've really gotten more savvy and cautious.

But you can never be entirely safe, that's for sure. And this one was a new one for me that seemed worth howling about. I've heard of people being fired for their Facebook pics and revelations--I'm not a FB fan, but most of my family uses it regularly. They've been alerted today, too!
Keka, more than a few people would be interested in which Scrubber company you use and if you are satisfied with it. I think most readers may not even be aware of their existence. PM me if you don't want to put it on the blog, I'm interested!
Gabby, this outfit was recommended by a true geek pal of mine as a less expensive alternative to some of the more pricey companies out there, and I really have had great success with them. They're amazingly responsive, and I get updates often. They even let me know if a site they previously contacted re-posts the info they demanded to be taken down! And if I find something before they do, they're on it in seconds. I have literally gone back a few minutes after contacting them, and seen the info was gone.

Here you go:

http://www.reputationdefender.com/
Wow, Keka, I didn't know...~r
I didn't know that about cell phone pics. I suppose the government as well as common criminals use whatever tricks are available to track us.
R
Thanks for the info, Keka. I always save my photos to my computer hard drive, then create a false link to something like Google images, unless I take the photo from the internet, then I link it to the site of origin.
LIttlewillie there's a move on now to get Congress to look into this, because the police and others have used these tricks to trap people. I've read some scary stories about marijuana growers and tax evaders and other criminals being found this way, so...wow...
Now I don't feel so bad about the fact that I don't know how to take pictures with my cell phone. But I should probably warn my kids.
Now I don't feel so bad about the fact that I don't know how to take pictures with my cell phone. But I should probably warn my kids.
Big Brother is watching every single move. Thanks, Keka. I still cannot understand how a photo posted from a digital camera - not from a blackberry or iPhone - can lead to a person's dwelling.
Fusun, that IS weird, but it was included in the articles I read. I'll need to check out how that works, but I knew I should include it given that both were mentioned.
Ohh well that is just what I needed to ad to my paranoia... I feel so safe now in the world...
Dangers on every side. World's getting risky. Next stop Montana?
Thank you so much for this info, Keka!
When I first got my smart phone and I was checking out the various settings, I noticed that the GPS function had two choices: location on OR 911 only. I immediately set it to 911 only and have kept it that way.
It's not always the subject in the photo that can be traced. For example, some photos of naked babes are taken by guys and the babes might not even suspect. No creepy guy wants to find out he has sought out where another creepy guy lives when he expects a hot babe.

Yet, this isn't the only technology that invades privacy either. There is a hot babe across the courtway in an apartment I can easily see in to. She works most nights. But when she gets home and gets out of her car and activates the alarm, the horn honks for a quick second. But I hear it so I know when she gets home and if her blinds are open enough to see in. So I hear the horn, know she is now home, and have a minute to grab the binoculars and watch her get ready for her shower. I don't need photos of her to use technology in my favor!
You see, you can be afraid of something, not be quite sure what it is, and it turns out you are right. I don't have a smart phone or blackberry, having made it to 52 without one, and not needing the added expense, I wont get one. My son should invest in reputation defender and use Firefox, thanks for that tip. I'll also have to tell a bunch of other people who do have these gadgets. That sentence made me feel so old.
IC, it's most definitely not the subject in the photo that gets tracked, it's the person who TOOK the photo who gets tracked. And that's what makes it creepy. And I have to say that your post is a little creepy, too...but of course...I think you meant it to be...yikes...
Fascinating. I guess there is a reason to keep our old pocket digital cameras after all!

I also wanted to share that my perception of Reputation Defender, (now Reputation.com) differs a little from yours, based on an article I researched and wrote last summer. You can find it here. A number of others have followed up on this line of inquiry to find even more depressing info about the proliferation of data aggregators. The business model will keep Reputation.com in business for a long, long time if people decide to trust them for a fix.
Thanks for this info Keka, and Gabby's comments were spot on too. This sounds like something out of I, Robot.
Steve, I read your article, and while I was able to work through and remove a lot of info myself before turning to RD, I wasn't able to do all of it myself or even to keep up with all of it. They're there to alert me to new ones, and to get at the ones that are particularly difficult for me to work with. They catch the repeat offenders, too.

Spokeo is particularly bothersome, as is one other one you mentioned, which sells all kinds of info for a price. I handled part of the procedure for Spokeo, they handled the rest. They also expedited the removal of my info from those "paid" sites.

I realize what they do may not be something we couldn't all do on our own, but I had so much information out there that I preferred having their help. Being able to keep the records and follow up on it all from one site was also really important to me.

I hear you, though! I just needed their help, and will continue to use them for a few more months. Now that the bulk of the work is done, I can pretty much handle the one or two intruders I get myself!
Oh technology...you can love it and you can hate it as well.
I tend to love it, but...I'm also paying more attention to little things like this when people send me articles and such. I check to see if they're urban legends first, and then, if they're the real deal, I get to work!
Guess I'm glad I'm too dumb to have a smart phone.