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Geotagged Facebook posts put soldiers' lives at risk

usa army warning smartphones social media

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#1 Hum

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:09

Soldiers' lives are being put at risk by geotagged photos - marked with a location - on social media sites like Facebook, the US Army has warned.

It says Facebook's new Timeline feature, which creates a map of places geotagged by users, also poses a risk to soldiers and their families

Many smartphones automatically geotag photos with GPS co-ordinates.

In 2007 four US Army helicopters were destroyed in Iraq after geotagged photos were posted on the internet.

By posting photos on Facebook or checking-in on social media sites like Foursquare or Gowalla, soldiers may reveal the exact location of their unit or their family, the US Army said in a statement. The release follows an army warning last year that geotag data in photos could tip off criminals.

"Do you really want everyone to know the exact location of your home or your children's school?" Staff Sgt Dale Sweetnam of the Online and Social Media Division said.

"Before adding a location to a photo, soldiers really need to step back and ask themselves, 'Who really needs to know this location information?'"

Facebook's Timeline could also reveal soldiers' routes and habits to terrorists, hackers or other criminals, he warned.

"Timeline presents some unique security challenges for users who tag location to posts," Staff Sgt Sweetnam said.

"Honestly, it's pretty scary how much an acquaintance that becomes a Facebook 'friend' can find out about your routines and habits if you're always tagging location to your posts."

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#2 M_Lyons10

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:13

Never really gave it much thought, but that makes a lot of sense. I don't think any of my pictures currently are geotagged on Facebook, but I guess I should check. They should really have a setting to disable that all together on Facebook.

#3 +Nik L

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:17

So you turn geotagging off if you don't want your photos geotagged. Wow!

#4 Shaun N.

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:19

So you turn geotagging off if you don't want your photos geotagged. Wow!


This - Doesn't take a ****ing genius!

#5 Roger H.

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:52

WTF are soldies doing on Facebook when on the front lines anyways. If you are at base that everyone knows where that is, including the enemy then fine but if you are a sniper sitting on top of a hill for days then you take and post a pic of the dude you are about to snipe then you got other issues :D

Taking pictures of some town you've been in is cool too but for crying out loud, don't post them while you are still there!

#6 OP Hum

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 15:58

Many smartphones automatically geotag photos with GPS co-ordinates.


But WHY ?

#7 Charisma

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 16:02

I strongly dislike the "geotagging" thing being defaulted to "on" with most devices these days. I don't get it. The first thing I do when I get a phone or tablet or whatever is disable GPS and any location-based tagging in photos, etc. I think it *could* be a neat feature in certain circumstances, but it needs to be off by default and only used when you explicitly choose to.

#8 xendrome

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 16:04

I strongly dislike the "geotagging" thing being defaulted to "on" with most devices these days. I don't get it. The first thing I do when I get a phone or tablet or whatever is disable GPS and any location-based tagging in photos, etc. I think it *could* be a neat feature in certain circumstances, but it needs to be off by default and only used when you explicitly choose to.


On top of this, most of the new phones are including the "shutter" sound on by default and no way to disable it. I think it was some federal FCC mandate or similar. I don't recall the details. But yes, the geotagging should be off by default.

#9 Yusuf M.

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 16:06

I strongly dislike the "geotagging" thing being defaulted to "on" with most devices these days. I don't get it. The first thing I do when I get a phone or tablet or whatever is disable GPS and any location-based tagging in photos, etc. I think it *could* be a neat feature in certain circumstances, but it needs to be off by default and only used when you explicitly choose to.

Agreed. Unfortunately, smartphone makers feel that a lot of people may not be able to find that feature in the first place. It's surprising how many people don't know how to use their high-end smartphones. As for the soldiers that tag their location, it's entirely their fault for doing so.

#10 vetCalum

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 16:33

[. . .] They should really have a setting to disable that all together on Facebook.

I'm just wondering what you mean by this :) Photos aren't automatically tagged with a location on Facebook; it's up to the user to manually add the location. So what would you like disabled? I do believe Facebook should allow people to ask for the removal of others' photos that show their location, though; even if you untag yourself from a photo that displays your location, some people may still know who you are.

#11 Ci7

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 00:56

the first thing i disabled in my FB Android

#12 .Neo

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:04

The US Army should enable Parental Controls on all personnel smartphones.

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#13 Xoligy

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:10

Never liked this geotagging tbh and every phone i have had ive always disabled it.

Why do i need to tell people where i am and when? I dont, would you knock on a thiefs door and say "Hey, im going out now so if you want to rob me, start in 10-20mins!" No, so why tell the world where you are and when?? Same goes for these run and cycle programs, they geo tag when you go out, display the route you take on the net it doesn't take a genius to work out when your in/out and how long your going to eb with that information, even had to warn a friend that i know how long i had to rob him before he realised what had happened he said "Didnt know it was doing that thanks!".

If i want someone to know where i am i'll tell them, i dont want my boss to know im at the pub or my gf to know im at some brothel or her best friends :rolleyes: geotagging is bad! Only time its good is when your on holiday and even then id want to tag the pics when i got home or have a custom folder set to just ME! till i was home.

#14 Enron

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 01:11

The US Army should enable Parental Controls on all personnel smartphones.


That's a small soldier!

#15 bjoswald

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:24

If you're a soldier, you have more important things to do than screw around on Facebook.



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