US Army warns Soldiers about risks of Geotagging

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US Army warns Soldiers that the risks of uploading geotagged photos on Facebook and other social network sites.
Geotagging is the process adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as a geotagged photograph or video, websites, SMS messages, QR Codes. Many smartphones automatically embed the latitude and longitude within the photograph for every picture you take.

By uploading geotagged photos on Facebook or checking-in social media applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla, soldires broadcast their exact location of their unit or their family, said Steve Warren, deputy G2 for the Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE.

There is real-world example that explains the risks of geotagging: In 2007, four US army helicopters(AH-64 Apaches) were destroyed in Iraq after geotagged photos were posted on the Internet.

Facebook's new Timeline feature includes a map tab of all locations users has tagged. Anyone who tagged as friend on facebook can get access to those information.

"Some of those individuals have hundreds of 'friends' they may never have actually met in person," Staff Sgt. Dale Sweetnam, of the Online and Social Media Division explained.

By looking at someone's map tab on Facebook, you can see everywhere they've tagged a location. You can see the restaurants they frequent, the gym they go to everyday, even the street they live on if they're tagging photos of their home. 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.

According to BBC report, The British army has banned the use of mobile phones in operational zones like Afghanistan, and cautions against soldiers taking pictures on smartphones in any circumstances.

Soldiers are asked to disable the geotagging feature on their phones and to check the security settings on their social networking sites to make sure only real friends have access to their information.

"A good rule of thumb when using location-based social networking applications is do not become friends with someone if you haven't met them in person," Sweetnam said. "Make sure you're careful about who you let into your social media circle."

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