CRESTVIEW — When Camille Mullis snapped pictures of her son Ricky, 7, preparing to return to Riverside Elementary School, she knew her smart phone would tag the picture with the location where it was taken.
However, Mullis also knew to turn off the tagging feature if she decides to post the photo to Facebook or other social media.
Mayor David Cadle and his wife, Shirley, recently circulated a video report from a Kansas City, Mo., NBC-TV affiliate warning parents to deactivate the smart phone feature.
The report stated potential criminals, like any other Internet user, can easily get hold of geo-positioning data embedded in a cell phone photo.
Crestview Police Department spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider said misuse of the technology has not been reported in the city, but he encouraged smart phone users to be proactive to prevent it from happening.
"The technology is there," Schneider said. "The best approach is to encourage people to learn how to use their devices."
Photos posted online for family and friends could yield all sorts of clues for criminals, including shots of tempting theft targets such as electronics and valuables, Schneider said. GPS information embedded when the photo was taken tells thieves exactly where to go.
Preventing location information from being attached to photos is as easy as going into a smart phone's settings and switching off the camera phone’s GPS service.
Taking that extra step lets Mullis enjoy sharing photos of Ricky and his little brother Jackson, 3, without the worry about sharing unnecessary information on social media.
"There are a lot of events at the school," she said. "You want to capture the memories and you take pictures and share them. You just have to be careful."
Anything posted on the Internet is there forever, Schneider said.
"If people don't want their families' pictures out there for everyone to see, don't post them on the Internet," he said. "Once it's there it will never go away."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.