Search for online dating
The second way your photos can betray your privacy is a bit more technical, but still terribly important to recognize.
It has to do with hidden information, or ‘metadata’, which is tacked onto most pictures by phones, photo editing software, and digital cameras.
You can’t see EXIF metadata without using special tools, but it may contain startling amounts of information about where the photo was taken, by whom, and when.
This exists primarily to help out professional photographers and photo storage tools. Let’s look at some of the data hidden inside of it: Create Date : 20 Make : Samsung Orientation : Horizontal (normal) Flash : No Flash Focal Length : 4.3 mm GPS Position : 28 deg 21′ 27.100″ N, 81 deg 33′ 29.71″ W Even with location geotagging disabled in your camera settings, metadata still provides a tremendous amount of detail about you and your devices, and can even uniquely identify photos taken with your camera.
Somebody with malicious intent may use this to their advantage when trying to correlate your dating profile to other web content.
He or she will very likely check search engine caches for old pictures or bios that are easier to identify or contain embarrassing details.
You realized a few days later that it was too much of a privacy give-away, and made the wise choice to switch to a new photo. Search engines and archive sites are continually indexing as much content as they can from the internet.
If needed, pursue sites and search engines to remove what they can and will, and disassociate your online identity as much as possible from the content. The individual facts and conversations you post on dating sites might not give away your identity, but as a collective whole, they may.
I highly recommend reading this eye-opening blog on the subject by IOActive.
Give some thought to what people can see in your photos’ backgrounds before posting them to your private dating profile.
A few years ago, image recognition on a large scale was restricted to law enforcement and corporate security. Free services like Tineye and Google Images will search billions of indexed images on the internet for identical or similar pictures.
This isn’t necessarily traditional hash or metadata specific – cropping or resizing an image is not a foolproof way to defeat this (as I show in the screenshot below, where Tineye and Google correctly identified my profile selfie which is substantially cropped on social media).