It’s 11:38 p.m and a disgruntled employee at a Burger King decides to post a picture of himself stepping on bins of lettuce for posting on 4Chan with the text: “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King”. Unbeknownst to him, his “anonymous” post is not that anonymous after all. Many people are not aware that photos taken with cell phones are tagged with the gps coordinate pinpointing the exact location of the photo, sometimes accurate to within a few feet. If posted to a website which do not remove the exif data, the gps coordinates are fully viewable to anyone who sees the photo.
No less than nine minutes later, another 4Chan user had read the exif data and pinpointed it to Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Three minutes later, another user identifies the exact Burger King location. Five minute later at 11:50 pm, someone contacts the news who contacts the Burger King the next morning. The breakfast shift manager said “Oh, I know who that is. He’s getting fired.”
There is no standard on what websites do with exif data. Facebook specifically removes exif data from posted photos for privacy reasons while Google+ keeps exif data intact. The lesson here is 1. Don’t step on people’s food and 2. Assume the exactly location of your mobile photos are attached to every photo you post online. It’s incredibly easy to view exif data. Tools like Jeff’s Exif viewer can do so without even having to download the image. Once the gps coordinates are known, it’s just a matter of plugging it into Google Maps.