What Is Geotagging, and What Does It Have to Do With My Sponsored Child?

The Internet and Social Media has made the world a little smaller, more familiar and allows people to communicate in ways that have not been possible in past generations. Websites like Facebook or Twitter unite people for a cause, educate or reconnect long lost friends. But as with anything else, with the good comes the bad.

a cellphone

Recently there has been some buzz about smartphones, geotagging and what that means for the photos you place on social media sites you use.

Smartphones have the ability to track your location by attaching latitude and longitude coordinates to the photos you take with your phone. This is called geotagging and it is a feature built into many of today’s smartphones.

Geotagging data attached to your photos allows someone to determine, with great accuracy, the whereabouts of your home, your place of work or even your child’s school. Many people are unaware this feature exists on their smartphones and innocently post personal photos online ignorant of the potential security risks they are taking.

Thankfully, turning off your smartphone’s geotagging feature is fairly simple. Because each smartphone is different, however, we recommend you go to your phone manufacturer’s website to get exact instructions on how to do this.

Safe boundaries are important not just for our children but for you, our sponsors, as well. In blog posts like What Should I Do if My Sponsored Child Contacts Me Via Facebook? and Why Can’t I Communicate With My Sponsored Child Via Facebook? we outline some of the reasons behind Compassion’s communication policies.

As a child advocacy organization, we believe that children should be kept safe and protected in all situations, including online. The reality is, there are unscrupulous people in this world and we want to educate you with posts like these so that you can make informed, wise decisions with the data you share on social media sites.

You can also view the Smartphone Pictures Pose Privacy Risks video on YouTube.

Technology is ever growing, changing and evolving. It is easy to get intimidated by it all but don’t let it scare you away. Online communication is a great tool. We just need to be safer and smarter about the personal information we share with others.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. stephen bennett March 29, 2011

    Compassion might consider managing the Computer World, as it’s been pointed out, has many wonderful benefit, however as with any incredibly powerful tool, can be used for evil as well as good.
    It has been God’s direction to have all Child correspondence go through a very closely monitored system of checks and balances, to protect both sponsors and children. A system of checks and balances that screens both improper words in sponsor’s language and culture, as well as child’s language and culture.
    A system that has consistently achieved Compassions goal of “excellence in all things we (Compassion) does)”

    Now that the world of Computers is as it were invading us, like it or not, many children and sponsors are breaking the rules, my prayer, though I really wouldn’t have any way of knowing, is that nothing bad had happened, yet as one with a heart of an advocate, not only for the individual child, but also for the 1.4 million currently sponsored, and the millions of sponsored children in the future Lord Willing, it seems clear to me, there is only one solution.
    Compassion must set up a controlled website, not a substitute for postal letters, for they are priceless, I personally cherish every child’s letter, and when I visited a child I sponsored in Brazil, I watched the eyes of every family member, most of all, because they were aware of the incredible important those letters were to that child.
    And though it was well over 14 years ago, a vividly clear image is in my minds eye, the bright eyes of that child. A hush came over the small one room, her eyes grew bright, her countenance lit up, and a bright smile came over her face, her family were smiling also, she reached under her bed, and brought a shoe box out which contained my letters. Every one lovingly and carefully folded as a priceless memento, though I could not understand Portuguese, she became very animated, my translator struggling to keep up, but there was no translation needed, she communicated very well, that each letter meant to her more than words could say, it said that she understood that her sponsor cared about her very much.
    and amazingly, she had written in one of her letters that she had accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior, she was about 6 years old. There was one more thing which confirmed to me that she really was sincere; both a confirmation in my heart, and her words, too little to write, she had dictated them to her Compassion translation/letter writing associate “I am praying for all the children of Brazil”
    At first, I wondered, could this child really have the understanding and the faith to pray for all the children of Brazil? I remembered Dr. Stafford many words about the prayers of a little child “Hush, Hush! A little child is praying! !

    When I went to the Brazilian consultant in San Francisco to get my Visa, extremely distinguished gentlemen businessmen in beautiful expensive suits were all told to return 24 hours later, that was the rule.

    I was dressed in rather ordinary looking clothes, I was required to present my ticket, my passport, and third, the reason for my visit to Brazil, the ladies were very tough businesslike ladies.

    I handed my ticket, my passport, then it took me a moment, I could tell they were becoming impatient because I wasn’t quite ready with my reason, then I handed them all my letters from Meriele, her photos.
    When I tell the story, I say, I saw the entire nation of Brazil bow before a child.

    The ladies, all gathered around, very excited, they talked quite rapidly (to me) in Portuguese for a very long time, they all wanted to read all her letters to me, for them, those letters were as precious as they were to me (almost)

    then the lady came to the window, whispered “I’ll be back in just a moment with your Visa”
    Dozens of miracles followed,

    so I cannot overemphasis how critical postal type written paper letters are, however when I speak of Compassion taking over control of the “world wide web” as it concerns what sponsors and children might see, I can think of many opportunities.
    But above all, even if at some point some times (and I hope not) e-letters become incorporated, I will be heartbroken.

    Things I can see where control would be a positive.

    First, it will give a proper outlet where children and sponsors may share.
    For example, I happen to come across a Christian Music Video written,created, produced, and put on youtube by a Christian Music Group who Worship at a Compassion Church, though I positive by the age of the artists that they are no longer sponsored, and used their own personal funds.

    However, I have often wished it were possible to post Hillsongs Worship Videos from you tube and then, through the Controls of a Compassion Controlled and monitored web site, send the message to my child, who would have no contact information whatsoever you see, that this video encourages me, and I hope it might encourage my sponsored child.

    Share a verse.

    Essentially, what I envision is a group of very gifted, and Holy Spirit led Compassion Sponsors who would put forward suggestions.
    Perhaps also Compassion Project Country leaders, Pastors, Church Elders, (those who sit on the selection committee) and others, such as Leadership development students,

    the LDS, perhaps more than any other group, might be best suited to make excellent suggestions, since they are more than any other group most up to date with both the latest in good and bad in Computers.

    I thought I knew about Computers, and I found out I knew next to nothing when it comes to things like “facebook” a world that makes me feel very “old”

    which is why, while I feel very strongly that Compassion somehow needs to have a website which it might monitor closely, perhaps through a variety of very trusted hierarchy of Compassion Volunteers, quite similar to the principle set forward in Exodus 18:17-26, modified by Compassion as needed. small matters, most volunteers may manage, more difficult matters, more experienced and wise council is available.

    But I know Compassion had through the years had to change with the times, and this time is no different. Each time, Compassion had risen to the occasion and done everything with excellence!
    I’m very proud of you!


    1. Elaine Cope July 7, 2011

      Stephen, Thank you very much for sharing, I had no idea.
      I loved your comment even though it made me cry.
      I will be sure and actual write & send more letters instead of email them.
      Thank you,

    2. Kees Boer April 19, 2011

      If this was Facebook, I would put a “big like” next to this post. I love how you visited your children in Brazil!!!

  2. shaun March 28, 2011

    There are powerful benefits to geo tagging as well. Think of the Haiti earthquake and the ability to locate Sponsored children quickly if their photos had been taken with a gps equipped camera.

  3. matt March 28, 2011

    Thanks for post. I’m not smartphone savy but it was interesting to read. Thanks

  4. june March 28, 2011

    Thanks for this information! Technology is great but can often be used for bad. I appreciate you letting us know and keeping us safe!

  5. Andrew March 28, 2011

    To expand on the “don’t let it scare you away”: not everyone should always disable geotagging, which isn’t any more inherently dangerous than social media. Last year bought a handheld GPS mainly to use with my sub-DSLR camera. Now I have a map with my photos on it—such as my trip last year to Yellowstone or all the places I visited in the city in which I live. However, I don’t post any of these photos to social networks (especially Facebook which has a terrible reputation for privacy), but if I did, I would use the privacy settings to limit the audience to people I know. Also, once the photo is taken, there is software to view, add, move, and remove the geographic “tags” from what are called the EXIF tags. Even without geocoded photos, there are so many other way’s to find where a person lives such as status updates, the background of a photo, a branded t-shirt for a high school, the name of the employer on LinkedIn, employer’s web site (like this blog), the white pages, creepy aggregator sites like MyLife and Spokeo, public real estate records (did you know your county may be publishing your house’s sale price?), etc.

  6. Sarah March 28, 2011

    Thanks so much for this great post! I had no idea that technology could allow this to happen. I’m sending this on to my college aged kids as a heads up to them. Thanks again!

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