If someone asked you how much information Facebook gets on you the second you upload a photo, what would you tell them? Probably something along the lines of, "I don't know, a lot," right?
Technically you would be right, though your answer is understandably short on technical details. That makes sense given that you are probably not a computer programmer nor do you likely work for Facebook.
But when it gets down to it, you should probably have a better idea of what Facebook is learning every time you publish a picture (how many selfies have you taken today?). After all, it never hurts to have a better grasp of our online privacy.
It's not just your face
Of course, Facebook's facial recognition features will pick up on who you are, and any caption and/or tagged people and places will be registered, too. You probably already knew that, and if you didn't, you should have.
What you and the rest of us didn't realize was Facebook recorded even more information, none of which you probably knew was being recorded.
Like, for instance, where you took the photo? That's in there, as is the kind of phone you used to take it, the device ID that is unique to that very phone and what mobile provider you use.
Your upload will also record if there were any nearby Wi-Fi spots or cell towers, so your location is outed - that's a bit creepy.
With this data in hand, Facebook can get a really good picture of not only your whereabouts and travels but those of anyone else who happened to randomly show up in your photo. This could lead to a better overall product, sure, but it's also pretty creepy and leaves open the possibility of some real issues.
Can this be stopped?
Phones and some cameras automatically record that data every time they take a picture, so it's not necessarily something you can totally prevent. However, you can turn off geotagging, which is the location of the photo being noted.
For an iPhone user, you will need to go into your Settings. From there:
- Tap on Privacy
- Select Location Services
- Scroll down, choose Camera
- Tap on "Never"
From there select "Location Services," before scrolling down until you see "Camera." Then, tap on "Never."
As you will have seen, the step before choosing the camera specifically gave you the option to turn off location services for many apps that you may not want to have that ability. It's worth noting, though, that some will not work without location services being active.
When it comes to Android, the steps are similar.
- Open the Camera app
- Tap on "Settings"
- Scroll until you see the option for "Save location" (might be at the top) and disable it
Similar to the iPhone instructions, this will only impact geotagging with regards to photos. If you want to turn off location services entirely, that will require different steps and possibly render some apps useless.
As for cameras, each has different processes to turn geotagging off, so you will have to read through the instructions for whichever model you have.
Speaking of Facebook and data
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg testified in our nation's capital this week, and in doing so he answered plenty of questions. There were also some questions he did not answer, however, and you can read all about that here.