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Your iPhone photos reveal your exact location, but you can stop it

Published Nov 22nd, 2021 7:08PM EST
Apple iPhone 13 Back
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you like to send photos via text message on your iPhone, you could be putting your own privacy at risk.

If you’ve been using a smartphone for a while, then you’re probably already aware of how often they track the things you do. From the data that you access to the apps you use, your iPhone is always keeping track of what you’re doing. The same happens when you take photos using your iPhone. Whether you’re taking photos of your food or capturing a video of your dog doing something cute, your phone could be capturing data about your location, which others could find if you share that video or photo with them via unsecured methods like text messages.

Why sending iPhone photos via text message could be a privacy issue

iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Anytime you take a photo or record a video with your iPhone, it creates a file with a ton of information about that particular file. The date and name of the image are included in this data. It also includes a lot of private data, like the location the image was taken. The information is embedded in the image’s metadata when you take a photo. More specifically, it can be found within the EXIF data. Your iPhone uses this EXIF data to categorize your photos into albums.

Metadata can be useful. But, if the wrong people get ahold of the EXIF data from your photo, it could let them know exactly where you live or work. Some social media apps­—like Twitter—will scrub that data when you upload a photo. Unfortunately, when you send the image via text, the EXIF data is transmitted, too.

How to stop photos from saving that information

iPhone 13 Pro Photographic Styles
iPhone 13 Pro Photographic Styles Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

If you’re concerned about this information getting into the wrong hands, then you’ll be happy to know that you have a few options. First, you can spoof the data or remove it from each image individually. This is the most time-consuming method, but it can work.

  • In the Photos app, navigate to the photo you want to adjust.
  • Swipe up on the photo or tap the (i) button to view the photo’s data.
  • Tap Adjust on the bottom right corner of the map to bring up the location data. From here you can select to include no location, or add a false location.

If you want to disable the data collection altogether, though, you’re going to need to make use of the app tracking settings in iOS.

Open Settings and navigate to Privacy. Next, tap Location Services. Scroll down from here and tap on the Camera option. Select Never to disable tracking of location data when using the Camera app.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.