You may have seen a viral message sweeping around Facebook lately – one that claims that simply posting a photo on the network could open you up to info-snooping. Basically, the warning suggests that stored EXIF metadata in photos are giving creepers your exact location. Scary, right?
Well, Facebook’s security team has taken to Facebook (duh) to set your mind at ease. They assert that this is categorically false.
The Facebook Security team shared this note, which is part refresher course on EXIF data and part reassurance that Facebook doesn’t display location EXIF data on photos shared with others.
The Facebook Security Team has received a number of questions about recent stories warning people against inadvertently sharing location information when posting photos online. Here’s the story: When you take a photo, your camera attaches information, called EXIF data, to the photo. With some cameras, this is limited to the name of the file, its format, and date of creation. Modern cameras will also include the type of camera and photo settings, and cameras with access to the internet or GPS (like the cameras in smartphones) will sometimes attach the location where the photo was taken.
Generally speaking, if you email a copy of a photo or post it to the web, you are also sharing the associated EXIF data, since it automatically stays with the photo when you make a copy. To prevent that from accidentally happening when you post photos on Facebook, we don’t display location EXIF data in the version of your photo that you share with others. You can always choose to share things like location or the date of the photo by tagging a location or adding it to your timeline.
Facebook also has this up in their Help center concerning metadata on downloaded photos:
“When someone downloads your photo from Facebook, they won’t be able to see any of the photo’s metadata. Metadata is information automatically added to a photo when it’s taken. This information is uploaded to Facebook along with some photos.”
Of course, anything you post publicly to Facebook (or any other social network for that matter) is just that – public. So if you post a photo of you and your kids at the park, people will be able to see that you an your kids are at the park. Don’t be dumb about your privacy. But when it comes to the behind the scenes stuff, the data that can be hidden to some, and exposed for nefarious purposes, Facebook is assuring users that other people won’t be able to discern a location from any metadata attached to photos – because Facebook doesn’t display it on public versions of photos.
Facebook: “Carry on.”