I know, you’re wondering what metadata has to do with parenting and kids. I’m about to tell you. The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) recently released study results of a study related to how social media tools scrub (or don’t scrub) metadata from image files. The study suggests that certain social media tools should have better handling of metadata from a copyright perspective. As a photographer, I love that certain sites will maintain my copyright metadata. As a parent, I read the study from another perspective: which tools are best for privacy and security while using social media.
As a social media user, I post lots of photos online: my activities, my kids, my kids’ activities, blog post images. But every time I post a photo, I know that certain information in the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) metadata could be getting spread through the internet. To the average Jane or Joe, EXIF and other metadata means nothing. As a parent, it matters to me. If you are the parent of children or teens with their own smartphones and ways of posting images online, it should matter to you, too.
Cyber criminals can use this EXIF information to help plan and commit crimes. And our social media use is enabling them. Not to be alarmist, but it’s true. Gone are the days of criminals casing the newspapers for announcements of weddings and honeymoons so they would know when houses would be vacant to break in. These criminals can now surf to find out all sorts of information, including the GPS coordinates of where the photo of that cute kid or pretty young woman was taken.
So which social media tools provide the most privacy online? Based on the IPTC study, here are the social media tools that do the best and worst jobs of scrubbing metadata when uploading to their networks:
- Facebook, Flickr, Twitter: all embedded metadata stripped from the image files.
- Google +, Photobucket, DropBox: all embedded metadata fields are preserved.
- Pinterest, Tumblr: some embedded metadata fields are preserved but not all.
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