Mobile Geo-Tagging – How It Works and Important Things to Know

How To Turn It On

On your mobile devices, geo-tagging is directly governed by your Location Services (or Location & Security) settings, which need to have the option to allow tracking and reporting of your location enabled, before this function may be specified for each app that you want to use it with.

At the application level, you’ll then need to select the option to “Store Location in Pictures”, “Geo-tag Photos” or similar, depending on what app you’re using.

There’s usually a similar state of affairs on the social media platforms[2], with the Privacy or Location settings of your user profile governing your consent to the use of location services and geo-tagging at a higher level, followed by platform-specific lower level controls at the points where you post your updates, upload your photos, or make comments. These controls are available on both the sites themselves, and on their dedicated mobile apps.

On Facebook, there’s a location pin icon which you may use to “Check In” to a place before making a post. You can choose a location from the drop-down menu, or specify one yourself.

The “Compose New Tweet” box on Twitter has a location pin icon which you can click or tap on to pull up a list of nearby locations. The one you choose will appear underneath each tweet you subsequently post.

The caption tab on Instagram gives you the option to add a location for each video or photo that you post. The image or clip will also be saved to your personal Instagram map (in your user profile) at the chosen location.

Photos or videos on Snapchat may also be geo-tagged with fun stickers that change depending on your geographical location. You’ll need to swipe right on an image or clip to view the sticker option.

The Potential Downside

All very fine, when it goes right and is used for legitimate purposes. But location services in general, and the geo-tagging of personal input in particular, come with associated dangers. Among the nightmare scenarios facing mobile device owners if geo-tagging is improperly used or abused are:

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