Special Report: Social Media, Your Pictures & Stalkers Part 2

, Written by Kyle Aevermann, Posted: Tue, November 5 2013 at 5:51 PM, Updated: Wed, November 6 2013 at 12:06 PM

Meet Central Point resident Patricia Heath.

Like many of us, she uses social media sites like Facebook almost daily.

"I'm on there primarily to stay in touch with my friends and family," Heath told NBC 5.

Part of that online experience is about uploading pictures to share special moments like birthdays, vacations, even our nightly dinners.

"I've got a couple of different cameras but if my phone is handy that's what I'm going to use."

A survey from the Pew Research Center earlier this year estimates that 56 % of adult American's have a smartphone. Most are equipped with a GPS tracking device.

So we wanted to do a bit of an experiment and Patricia volunteered based on our Facebook request to check out how easy it is to track someone through a picture they post on the web.

To begin, we enabled all the GPS features on her phone.

NBC 5's Kyle Aevermann told her to go anywhere in the valley she wanted without telling me, snap a picture and post it online.

A short time later, Aevermann found her picture on Flickr and copied the address link and pasted into a website he found on Google that tracks down the precise location of where a photo istaken.

And with the click of the mouse, GPS coordinates and a map of where she is.

The location Patricia's picture gave was the Family Fun Center in Central Point.

As Aevermann pulled up, she was there waiting.

"It's really kind of scary, if you've got someone that's actually wanting to track you down that could be highly scary."

The pinpoint location on the map we were given and the actual place the picture was taken was only a difference of about 100 feet.

To avoid having your pictures traced it all comes down to your GPS feature in your phone. All you need to do is to go into your privacy settings and turn off your location services.

Most social networking sites including Facebook take away the location access in the file of a picture but can still be found if you allow certain privacy settings in your account to be posted with the picture.

And while Patricia didn't have her GPS enabled before our experiment, she has once again turned it off and will now make sure her loved ones do as well.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Kyle Aevermann

Kyle Aevermann reports weekdays and anchors NBC 5 News Weekends. He joined NBC 5 News in March 2012 as a morning producer and reporter. Prior to joining KOBI, Kyle interned at KISL-FM on Catalina Island, CA. He was also a regular contributor to CNN's citizen journalism program.

Originally from the Chicago-land area, Kyle moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to work in the social media industry. Kyle enjoys hiking, traveling, learning about cultures, and has a serious love for food.

Catch Kyle anchoring weekends on NBC 5 News at 6pm and 11pm.

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