Social media warning for parents

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (KYTV) – Instagram is one of the hottest social networking sites for teens these days.

But, more and more parents are discovering that it comes with a very big concern, your kid could wind up putting your home on the map without even knowing it.

“Most older people don’t have Instagram,” said Molly Matysiak. “That’s like our kind of thing.”

Hot, because it’s not your mom and dad’s social site. Many don’t know just how much those pictures are revealing about those young people.

“It’s just pictures,” said Molly Matysiak.

But, it turns out, it’s much more.

That simple picture could include location data mapping exactly where you took the photo.

After just 20 minutes, I knew 14 year-old Molly Matysiak’s top five places to take pictures, including her school, her friend’s house. Her home.

“I don’t like that,” said “Tracy Matysiak. “That bothers me. ”

“I think it’s scary that you can just find someone by taking a picture somewhere and posting it,” said Molly Matysiak.

“It worries me,” said Angela Frizell. “It really worries me.”

Angela Frizell is a girl scout troop leader.

“Raise your hand if you have a cell phone,” said Angela Frizell.

If you’re in her troop, you’ll learn all about social media and the potential dangers.

“You can look at a picture on Instagram, and it can pull up a map,” said Angela Frizell. “That shows exactly where you are.”

At her meetings, she has a rule, no uploading pictures on your phone. But, she knows it’s not enough to talk to her girls.

“I do my best to educate them,” said Angela Frizell. “But, children often think they know more than the adult. So, I want to pass that on to the parent.”

“It’s giving me data about how the image was taken, when it was taken,” said Angela Frizell. “What the latitude and longitude of it is and then, I can take that data and feed it into a map program.”

What did Instagram have to say about these concerns? A spokesperson says, “we can’t take an interview at this time.” Their best advice, be careful when uploading or you can review and delete mapped locations after you’ve uploaded a picture. Besides not using the service, here’s what else you can do. Don’t use Instagram’s camera. Turn off GPS on your phone’s camera. And be careful when you upload a photo. Click the x here. Also, you can set your Instagram account to private. A warning though, if the software ever updates, double-check your setting. I’m told it could revert to the default position, which is public not private.

Molly says she plans to tell her friends about the mapping technology built right into Instagram.

“I’ll probably tell them to be more careful on what they do and what they post and where they take it,” said Molly Matysiak.

“I thought we had pretty good parental controls and all the new stuff,” said Tracy Matysiak. “You just don’t realize what there is.”

Bottom line, if you haven’t checked out your teen’s Instagram account, it might be a good time to see if a stranger can find your home on the map.

“I’d be scared a lot, I wouldn’t know what to do,” said Molly Matysiak.

A group of parents are concerned enough about this issue, that they’ve started this online petition. They want the company to make the default setting, marked private and they want Instagram to disable geotagging for 13-17-year-olds.

It has more than 75,000 signatures. One of the moms from California told Paul she doesn’t think the company will actually change the settings. But, the petition will make parents aware of the problem.

 

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