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I can stalk you because of your data

August 29, 2010

I’m an advocate for sharing. That said, I am wondering about the amounts of data we inadvertently share.

This site, I can stalk u, asks the same thing.

They post the location of Twitter users that is gleamed from pictures uploaded to Twitter.

How, you ask, can a photo tell anyone a location?

“In short, metadata is more data about data. In most common document types, embedded within a file is more information, typically hidden from casual viewing. This hidden data is used by the computer programs to provide accurate processing information, i.e. what version of software was used to create the document, how the file is encoded, and often who created it.”

As the amount of data that we share increases, so will the need to understand how other, unmown metadata is made public.

Back to I can stalk you. On their site, they offer some advice for turning off the GPS tagging on photos. They suggest turning off all geotagging, even though they concede:

“…we may actually have need to use location-based services for other applications (such as maps and driving directions, or getting robbed via Foursquare), but just not for our pictures.”

Take a look. This won’t be the last engine that crunches your data.

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