Social websites such as Facebook are becoming very popular but this popularity has led some privacy activists to wonder what will happen to all the valuable geo-data we are uploading in our photos. Others wonder why people want others to know where they have been. I personally believe that most of the issues are notably linked to how you control and manage your online profile data. Everyone has a choice, so wouldn’t it be useful to understand how to remove geo-location data and other personal data in your photos before your share them in the online world?
All of us know about text-based profile data so what about photos? The iPhone (as do most smartphones) for example will store your location and other data in a EXIF (Exchangable Image File) data file which is embedded in the photo. So, if you upload photos to social websites like Facebook you might want to know how you can remove the EXIF and GPS location tagging data.
I use three powerful programs – one is called EXIFTool (this isn’t for novices as it is a command line tool), another is called XNview and the other is called GeoSetter to manage and control the EXIF image data. Both EXIFTool and XnView work with Windows and MacOS operating systems.GeoSetter only works with Windows though. These programs work very much in the same way by allowing you to easily remove and reset GPS and EXIF and IPTC data from your photos before uploading/sharing.
Update Feb 5th 2012: I’ve actually started trialling Exif Pilot (from Color Pilot) and best of it’s free. It’s actually very powerful, however for fast batch editing of files you will need to purchase the software. 🙁
If you use Microsoft Windows you can also remove the EXIF / IPTC data. In Windows Explorer do the following:
- Right click on the image(s)
- Click Properties
- Click the Details TAB – click the link “Remove Properties and Personal Information” and click OK
- A pop up window will appear with a copy of the cleaned image(s)
- You can now safely share the copied images with your friends.
All of us have a choice, so if you value your privacy and want to take back control, I suggest you think twice before uploading your images without cleaning them first.
Safe surfing folks!