Flickr Introduces Geofences To Protect User Location Privacy: The Social Media Privacy Report

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Recently we posted a blog about the privacy implications of your photos and privacy. In the post, PRIVATE WiFi™ CEO Kent Lawson wrote, “All that information — the date, the time, even the location — is potentially included when we email photos to our friends or upload them to a photo-sharing site such as Flickr.”

It appears that Lawson wasn’t the only one who realized that publicizing location on photo sharing sites could bring a severe privacy risk. According to a recent post on Flickr’s blog, the website, who pioneered the concept of geotagging – tagging the location of a photo – nearly five years ago, has always offered privacy settings for location. But these settings were the same as all of the other functions on the site. Meaning there are default settings for commenting, tagging, who can see your photos and location; but these are one-size fits all and sometimes a user would have to manually adjust the location privacy settings on a photo on a case-by-case basis.

Flickr has always offered the ability to override the default to make the location of certain photos more private. For example, if you want to hide the location of your home, you would have to go to each picture taken in your home and alter the setting. So it was possible, but it certainly wasn’t easy!

But now with geofences the process is much less convoluted and a lot more granular. There is an added layer of privacy since users can specify photos taken in certain locations to specific people or groups of contacts. For example, as PC Mag explains, “Users can restrict a photo taken within a short distance of a user’s house to just family, who would probably know the home’s location anyway, and would not be likely to share it.”

As shown at right, users now have the ability to “loop” a circle around a given location, and then determine who can see it.  It very easy to use: draw a circle on a map, choose a geoprivacy setting for that area, and you’re done. Your new fence will apply to any future photo uploads and Flickr will offer to update the privacy settings on any existing images that fall within your new fence.

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Jillian Ryan

Jillian Ryan is PRIVATE WiFi's Director, Brand Communications and Social Strategy. With a passion for writing, the web, and fast-paced information exchanged via social networks, Jillian is also concerned about the ramifications of putting your life details and personal data into cyberspace. Follow her on Twitter: @Writing_Jillian.