On social media privacy and cat pics

POSTED BY Peter Braitsch on Jul 23, 2014

We all take part in social media. Even our cats do. We're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, blogs, website comment sections, and more. What we often don't think enough about is the fingerprints we leave behind. How much information about ourselves are we leaving at imgur.com every time we upload a new pic of our cat wearing a piece of bread on its face? 

Quite a bit actually. 

There's metadata in the picture, itself, with information on the date and time the picture was taken, where it was taken, and with what type of camera or smartphone. The site might tell others the physical location from which it was uploaded.

A couple folks at the University of Florida mined social media sites for cat pics. That must have been pretty fun, actually. But it's what they did with the data that really helps shed some light on how the information we sprinkle around the internet can be used. By correlating all the data gathered from user uploaded, publicly available cat pictures with mapping software they can fairly accurately figure out where your cat lives. 

Enter iknowwhereyourcatlives.com.

In their words:

"This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all."

Check out their video and think about what your cat pics are saying about you. 

I Know Where Your Cat Lives from Owen Mundy on Vimeo.

WRITTEN BY Peter Braitsch

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Jul 25, 2014 at 4:38pm

They haven't discovered my cat yet. Phew!