Social Media Quick Tip: Keep Your Lat/Long to Yourself

Geolocation coordinates can help you in an investigation, but they can also put your safety at risk. Turn off geolocation functions on your computers and smartphones.

Editor's Note: Each week, Law Officer will post a Social Media Quick Tip that's intended to help law enforcement officers better navigate the world of social media and the Internet.

Geolocation coordinates are everywhere in social networking these days. If you’re an investigator, you’ve probably figured out how useful such data can be to link someone to a time and a place.

Remember: Your own geolocation data can also be used to undermine your own safety. To help keep yourself, your family and officers at your department safe, do the following:

1. Turn off geolocation on your smartphones--on the phone itself and within the camera function. On a Blackberry, click Menu and then Turn Off GPS. On an iPhone go to Settings, then General. On an Android, from within the camera application, go to Location and Security and Disable GPS.

2. Turn geolocation off within the mobile apps installed on your smartphone as appropriate.

3. Turn geolocation off on social networks you access from a computer or tablet, such as an iPad.

4. Any digital photograph you take can have lat and long embedded. Digital cameras, especially late models, are likely to store this data with every image. If you take a photo of your children and post that photo online, you’ve just potentially told people where to find your kids.

5. Be mindful of all of the above advice if you play FourSquare or use Facebook Places.

Finally, and perhaps most important, have a sit-down with your kids and fellow officers, and make sure they understand these risks, as well.


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