What Information Do Your Photos Store– and Release?

By Royasha Paudel

In this digital age, we leave a trail of data without even realizing it. Our photos can reveal when, where, and how they were taken.

Image Source: Zoner Photo Studio, Jan Zeman

The Japan Electronic Industries Development Association (JEIDA) created EXIF data in 1995. It was originally developed for JPEG images but later added to other formats.

EXIF data, short for Exchangeable Image File, is embedded in every photo you take. You can see this data on Apple iOS, Android, and digital cameras. EXIF data stores information such as the date the photo was taken, the coordinates of the location, the type of camera used, the lens used, if the flash was on, the shutter speed that was used, and more. The information that can be visible varies depending on the device the photo was taken on and the software used.

Screen capture does not include the same EXIF data as a picture taken by a camera because cameras typically contain more information.

With that said, the reason your camera roll will display photos taken by the date is due to the use of EXIF data. Because of EXIF data, you are also able to see the location that you took your pictures.

Software such as Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop are capable of reading EXIF data. This kind of software will typically add additional EXIF data to indicate alterations once you have made them to a photo.

EXIF data is not set in stone and does not always prove things. This means that EXIF data can be manipulated or even removed, so it does not guarantee elements of a picture, but it is often accurate.

You may be wondering what happens when you post a picture on social media like if anyone can see the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of where you took that picture. 
Short answer: no. Although photos themselves hold such information, the most popular social media sites strip most of the data prior to posting photos. Frequently used social media companies that remove all or most EXIF data when uploading pictures to the internet include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  They do this to protect consumer privacy because it can lead to the publication of private information and cyber stalking.

Royasha Paudel

Staff Writer – News

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