What you’re really sharing when you share photos online

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We live in a world where sharing our lives through photographs has become the norm. Gone are the days when you might have a camera with you for special occasions or holidays. Now you can share a good hair day selfie over Instagram, your baby’s first smile over Facebook or Tweet about how artfully assembled your dessert is. What a lot of people don’t realise however is just how much of your personal information you’re giving out with those photos. The pictures we so gleefully upload from our digital cameras and smartphones can contain a lot of your personal information thanks to EXIF data. Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) is attached to every digital picture you take. EXIF normally includes information such as the time and date the photo was taken, the focus settings and the type of camera used to take the photo. Unfortunately, with location settings activated on your phone, it can also include information like the GPS coordinates of exactly where the photo is taken. Having GPS coordinates on a photo doesn’t sound too bad at first, however if you’re sharing those pictures online with GPS enabled on your device, anyone can access the photo's EXIF data and hence know the exact location of where it was taken. Basically, EXIF data will tell your audience a lot more about your life than you ever wished to share. Geolocation information isn’t the only concern when it comes to sharing photos though. You also need to be aware of the content of your photos.Photos offer also wealth of information. With more people sharing more photos in more places more often, it has become easier for criminals to build elaborate and detailed profiles of their targets. It’s no wonder Identity theft has risen dramatically over the past few years.Then there are the potential risks to your livelihood. It has become standard practice for many companies around the world to check the social media accounts of prospective employees. When applying for a job, do you really want that potential employer seeing some photos that could be deemed risque´ or offensive? What do the photos you share publicly say about you? It's possible that oversharing could cost you a career which you have may have worked really hard to build. If you value your privacy and want to reduce your risk of the unintended effects of oversharing, consider checking your photos to ensure you’re not revealing too much personal information, remove embedded EXIF data, disable GPS tagging on your photos or social media image posts, and think carefully about the images you’re sending out to the world.