Cell phone pictures could be stalker bait

Family Crisis Center Executive Director Margi Preston.
Family Crisis Center Executive Director Margi Preston.

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It can happen at the spur of a moment. You notice something neat, like a floral arrangement, snap a photograph and share it with your friends online. What you may not know, is you could be sharing your exact location with a predator. It's called geotagging and it has some on high alert.

"That's so scary," said Margi Preston, Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center in Lufkin.

The technology has some domestic violence shelters fearing their clients safety could be compromised. Preston says people need to be aware.

"Geotagging is definitely up and coming and it's just another form of social media that breaches confidentiality," said Preston.

Smart phones like Blackberry's and iPhones have the ability to implant hidden data that can pinpoint the exact location the picture was taken. Expert Michael Hodgson says it even shows longitude and latitude.

"You can't visibly see that information without a lot of trouble, but it's part of the digital imprint of the picture itself that's written in the file," said Hodgson.

Preston fears the advanced technology could be used to track clients and even safe houses.

"There are very dangerous situations that happen between victim and the offender so not being able to find the location is really critical," said Preston.

She urges people to spread the word about the hidden danger of something that seems so innocent, sharing a photo taken by your phone.

The Web site, I Can Stalk U, gives you instructions on how to change your phone settings.

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