Everyone loves to post things to their Twitter account. Every day, people post things about the minutiae in their lives, from where they had lunch to what their kids are doing. People also are using services that allow them to post photos of these things. Because after all, a picture is worth a thousand words and isn't limited to 140 characters. This seems great, but did you know that for a lot of folks, whenever they post a photo of their lunch or kids, also included in their thousand words are details about their exact location of where they took the photo?
Now, we love Twitter and posting photos of our lunch, however, we don't feel that enough people realize what kind of data they are posting, albeit inadvertantly. By posting this information, they are allowing their movements to be recorded and analyized by anyone: from a government to a nosy neighbor. After analyzing your photos, someone could find out:
- Where you live
- Who else lives there
- Your commuting patterns
- Where you go for lunch each day
- Who you go to lunch with
- Why you and your attactive co-worker really like to visit a certain nice restaurant on a regular basis
Among many other things! I think that most people if they realized they were posting exactly where they were each time they clicked "send" on their phone to post a photo to Twitter they would stop doing it at all! How can we show what kind of information is available from a simple photo? Enter our latest project: I Can Stalk U
I Can Stalk U is a simple application that trawls twitter for links to photo sites. From there, it attempts to download the photo and search it for EXIF data that contains GeoTags. If it finds those, it runs it through the GeoNames web service to attempt to reverse it to an address. From there, it displays the location on the site, be it an address, city name, or latitude and longitude.
By doing this we hope to make people aware that they are posting this information when they are sending out photos and giving them options on how to disable that functionality. By making this information public, we are attempting to get enough exposure to the problem so that we can start to curb its continued use.
Also, for the record, we do not stalk anyone, nor do we wish anyone be stalked. If you are, or know of, a victim of stalking, cyber or otherwise, we highly recommend visiting the US DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime page