Special Report: The Data Inside

Special Report: The Data Inside

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - You might want to think twice before posting another picture online.

Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are packed with pictures, everything from vacation photos, to work photos, to food photos, to those all important selfies.

It's a way to give our friends a glimpse into our daily lives, but unknown to many, we're also giving strangers a glimpse at where we work, where we live, and even where we go to school.

"It's very scary," said Brittany Fink. "It's definitely something that I want to try to get a hold of in my household."

Brittany is just learning that her and her children's pictures really are worth more than just a thousand words.

"I can Google their name and just put in Facebook or just put in Facebook or just put in Twitter, and boom, a picture of them pops up," said Brittany.

She and others attended a recent technology seminar in Evansville. They learned it's more than just pictures of their family that can be found online.

It's what's hidden deep within those pictures that can be a goldmine for online predators.

"It's so easy for a person to become a victim by not controlling what they put out," said Sgt. Matt Hill with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office.

What you're putting out when you press send to upload a picture is what some in law enforcement are calling today's biggest risk online.

"Your cell phones are now computers and they can pretty much do anything your computer do, which includes turning into a mobile surveillance device," said Sgt. Hill.

When you take a picture with your smartphone, encrypted within that image, is information about the camera, the date the picture was taken, and oftentimes - thanks to the phone's GPS - the exact location where that picture was taken.

"If you send that to somebody and just as a standard email, text message, the information about your location can be extracted very quickly," said Sgt. Hill.

That can be done by downloading a free add-on to browsers like FireFox.

Using those programs, anyone can right click on a picture, and get a detailed map that pinpoints the exact location the picture was taken.

Meaning, if your child takes and uploads a selfie from their home or school, anyone within access to that picture can find out exactly where your child lives or goes to school.

Sgt. Hill says it's also alarming in domestic violence situations.

"Don't send a picture of yourself to your ex to taunt them about what you're doing, because you've sent him your location at that exact time," said Sgt. Hill.

The good news is, there is a simple way to block that information from being captured when you take a picture.

Just go to your phone's setting and turn off the GPS connection to your camera.

It's a simple fix for what could be a very dangerous situation.

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