#4 Geotagged Photos or "Hey! Dig here!"

In the modern age of social media and smart cell phones a new concern has developed. Who hasn't taken a picture of a landscape, feature, or artifact that they wanted to show their family and friends? Those of us that do archaeology on a daily basis get excited by what we find and want to share it with others. The common sharing method for photos is on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many people also share photos on a number of photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Photobucket. While I agree that we should share our excitement and love of our jobs with others, in the technological age that we live in, we have to be careful.

All modern smartphones, which are usually defined as phones that can run applications, have GPS chips inside. The default setting for the camera on these phones is to geolocate and tag the photos. Stored in the meta-data is latitude/longitude and elevation information. It's not difficult to find this information on a photo saved from the internet. The best way to prevent the location information from getting out is to turn off the location services on your phone.

On Apple's iPhone (all models) location reporting can be easily turned off.  

Go to "Settings", then "Location Services".









At this point, you can turn the phone's GPS receiver off entirely by sliding the "On" switch after "Location Services" to the "Off" position.  








If you choose to just turn off the GPS for the camera application then simply scroll down to it.  Keep in mind that if you use a different application than the factory installed one to take pictures, you will have to turn off location services for that app as well.








Once you have switched the slider to the off position you are safe to take photos of artifacts and sites and post them on your website of choice.  You can post with a clear conscience knowing that you have done your part for archaeological digital security.








The technology review website, CNET, has a great video on how to disable geotagging on the three major platforms, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry:

I hope that everyone includes digital security in their next "tailgate" safety meeting.  We don't realize sometimes that collectors and looters search the internet looking for artifacts to sell.  It wouldn't surprise me if they also trolled Facebook and Twitter looking for photos of artifacts and sites.  Keep this in mind when you post a photo and when you see a friend's photo.  PASS THE WORD so we can keep our friends from shouting to the world, "Hey! Dig here!"