Why geotagging pictures can be harmful

If you’re on social media, especially Instagram, you’ve probably geotagged a picture. This means that you have uploaded a photo and put the location on where you took the shot. Everyone does it, not just you. But did you know that geotagging can actually do a lot of harm? Although it may seem innocent at first glance, there’s actually proof that geotagging has brought damage to places and put animals at risk. How? If you’re curious about this topic, let’s have a look at why geotagging pictures can be harmful.

It puts wild animals at risk

Imagine you go on a safari somewhere. You see a lion, zebras and all other kinds of exotic animals that you’ve only dreamt of. You snap a photo and you geotag the location. But one thing that oblivious tourists don’t think about is that this can actually help poachers finding their prey. You see, since you have the GPS location of the place on your social media, it’s easier for them to find the animals.

It puts the landscapes at risk

There’s many cases where geotagging has done more harm than good to a place. Take Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida for example. In the beginning, it was a hidden and remote place that was very difficult to access. There weren’t any tourist facilities there either, just some broken steps that lead down to the stunning beach. The first people who got there started to share this paradisiacal place on their social medias and share the name and location. This eventually reaches probably thousands of people who are all craving to see this site. Indonesia is already a very popular country to visit so it’s easy for tourists who are already there to start making their way to Nusa Penida. The thing is that these remote places are usually not prepared for the rising visitor flows. The sites needs to be adapted before they can host them. But with geotagging, the rumours spread fast and all of a sudden there’s thousands of people in a place that doesn’t have the capacity to receive that many. This also means that there will be more irresponsible travelers who leaves trash after them and eventually harming the natural environment.

There are also many places in Vietnam for example that has gotten popular because of people geotagging places. Take Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park as an example and Phu Quoc Island. A few years ago, these places only received a handful of tourists. But nowadays, tourism there has exploded. Luckily, these sites have adapted and does have the capacity to host visitors. There are many places who can’t though, such as the Nusa Penida Islands. Therefore, if you really want to geotag a place, you should either do it less specifically (only geotag the country for example) or make sure that it’s a place where geotagging doesn’t do much harm such as in bigger cities.

It puts you at risk

Believe it or not, geotagging can also put you at risk. When you’re geotagging, you’re exposed to:

  • Where you took a photo
  • Your location history (this reveals where you go on a regular basis or where you’ve been for example, it can reveal your workplace or home as well)
  • Your location (anyone can find you if you put a location on where you are)

Technology can be scary at times but we usually don’t think about it. There’s a lot of metadata being captures and this information can be used by whomever. That’s why it’s so important that we’re aware of what we’re putting out on our social medias and that we have to be more careful. Because yes, geotagging a place might seem innocent in the beginning, but it can actually do much harm.

So… next time you go on a vacation or snap a photo, think thoroughly before you decide to geotag the location. Why do you need to do it? Who do you want to see it? And what benefits will it make to the place you’re geotagging? There are times when destinations could certainly benefit from having more tourists and perhaps a geotag could boost their tourism a bit. But there are also other consequences that we must start thinking of. When we’re putting animals, the environment and ourselves at risk, it becomes a big problem. You can still take a photo and tell people that you enjoyed the place, but there’s not always a need to reveal every little detail. So think twice next time you put something up on social media. It could benefit us all if we were more careful and private.

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