FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Instagram Knows Where You Live, Eat Dinner, Get Drinks and Take Pictures of Kittens

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

Big Brother knows exactly where you take oversaturated, filtered pictures of your dinner and your dog. And he wants to tell all your friends (not to mention basically the whole smartphone-using world) about it.

This week, Instagram, the photo editing and sharing app recently acquired by Facebook, rolled out a major new feature in its latest update. It’s called Photo Maps, and it’s a sort of map-based album that displays all of users’ geo-tagged photos pinned to the location where they were taken. Exactly where they were taken. To the point that an interested party (cough STALKER cough cough HOME INVADER cough) could pretty easily discern exactly where you live and spend time on a day-to-day basis, and where you go to take those epic, #nofilter sunset pics.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told The Huffington Post that he wants to “make geo-date more prevalent.”

“We want 90 percent of photos to be geo-tagged because we can do more powerful things with that data,” he added.

All we can say to that quote is, um, creepy! What “powerful things” does Systrom see himself doing with data about where people take pictures, other than selling that data to advertisers or using it for market research? No, thank you.

Here’s what you need to know about the new update:

  • You CAN opt out. And to Instagram’s credit, you can do so pretty easily. When you update the app, there are multiple prompts asking you whether you want to add some or all of your photos to your Photo Map. You can also go back and remove photos from the map if you don’t want, for example, pictures from inside your house appearing.
  • If you do opt out, geo-tagging information will be lost for the photos you don’t choose to display on your Photo Map (at least, that’s what the prompts within the apps say). In other words, you can’t keep the geo-tagged data without displaying your photos on a Photo Map.
  • The geo-information gathered about your photos is pretty specific, so if you don’t want Instagram users to know at least the neighborhoods, if not the specific addresses, where your photos are taken, better to opt out.
  • You can also make your Instagram profile private, if you like the Photo Map feature (even we’ll admit it’s visually pretty cool) but don’t want users other than your friends to see it. Users will have to ask to follow your feed, and you can either approve or deny them access.

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