It is crazy to think about how much information there is out in the world about us; crazier yet is how information can be used to track us in real time. Every day we are under constant surveillance from CCTV, the cookies in our web browser and our handy-dandy smartphone in our back pocket…
Geotagging is exactly what it sounds like: tagging your geography or the process of attaching GPS metadata to content such as a photo or a post. There are obvious pros and concerns when it comes to geotagging. For instance, NBC’s Katy Smyser and Stefan Holt (2012) reported that after the events of Hurricane Sandy, geotags were used to help first responders find trapped people or, personally, when I post a photo on Instagram or start streaming a Periscope and I can geotag my location to it now and can be seen by a larger audience (its like having another hashtag!)
It also helps me look at my considerations for what restaurant I will go to for dinner tonight. However, as one of the issues with our growing participatory culture, this does mean that when we do take a photo of that amazing burger or colourful brunch that we are are giving away free labour AKA free advertising from consumer created content.
What happens though when my geotags get analysed? I get tracked or as I like to call it virtually stalked. Every Wednesday, my smart watch will come up with a Google notification that it will take “X” amount of minutes to get to uni… Umm I didn’t request to see how long it will take to get to uni today Google, you creep. In fact, for as long as I have my phone with me and my location settings on, Google amongst other apps on my phone are tracking when I go to gather even more detail information about my movements and behaviour to create an in-depth profile about me.
Moreover, what would happen if this information got into the wrong hands? Anyone with this information would be able to find me at anytime or could even predict where I most likely am to be, and have an understanding of my behaviours The lesson from this is that we are constantly under surveillance but that is the price we pay for “free” services such as Google Maps and Facebook. Therefore it is important that we are more aware than ever of our actions and consider who may actually be watching us.
Smyser, K & Holt, S, 2012 Geotagging Allows for Real-Time Surveillance, NBC, retrieved 1 August 2016, <http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/unit-5-social-media-location-services-180083881.html>