Stop telling Instagram Where you live

Even the tech-savviest among us might not know that Instagram is keeping track of where you live, work, and eat brunch: Here’s how you can yank your privacy back.

Sirius XM Welcome Sirius XM Stars listeners! So fun to be on the Just Jenny show this AM! Here’s the Instagram article I talked about… enjoy!

I’ve been doing a bit of public speaking lately, and wherever I go, this little tip seems to blow people away. Both because it feels like such a sneaky invasion of privacy and because they thought they had all their bases covered. I ask people to head to their Instagram app, tap a button, and view their photo map, which shows the geographic location of where you took every picture ever, and you can zoom in to the very intersection they were shot at. People are shocked to see this, especially the biggest cluster of photos… because it doesn’t take long for someone to figure out that’s where you live.

instagram photo map

This is upsetting (it was to me too), since many of us have done what we thought we needed to do to prevent Instagram from tracking our location: We refrained from tapping the “Name This Location” tab. We may have even thought we turned off Location Services, but there it is: The Photo Map, outlining every place we’ve been.

[highlight] Geotagging, your phone’s ability to assign a geographic location to a photo [/highlight] , is the modern-day equivalent to that date stamp they used to print on the back of our photos. It’s a helpful organization tool, allowing you to organize photos by location. On the flipside, having a location on all of your photos is an inherent safety risk online. Here’s how to ensure that Instagram doesn’t let everyone know where you live (or that you’re not where you live— thieves like to know that too).

Make your Instagram account private

This isn’t an option for most people, who feel it’s fun to have a public account, but it certainly does solve the problem. If your profile is set to private, only approved users can see your Photo Map. If it’s public, anyone on the planet can. Not enough protection? Let’s move on to the next step.

instagram photo map

Remove all photos from Instagram’s Photo Map

To view your photo map, head to your profile page and tap the little grey place marker. If it’s greyed out, you’re good to go (you likely told photo map to go away when it first became a feature). If it’s clickable, you’ll be met with a map of every photo with a geotag.

Zoom the map out until you can see all the photos, then select “edit” in the upper-right corner. Your photo count should change from blue to green. Tap “Deselect All” > “Done”. You will be met with this screenshot, which you should “Confirm”. Now, your map is empty. Phew!

instagram photo map

Turn off Instagram’s location services

Now that you’ve wiped your Photo Map clean, this setting will prevent Instagram from assigning a location to any photo, ever again.

instagram photo map

Regularly check settings

Settings have a way of switching themselves off, they just do and there’s no reason why. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by regularly checking them, especially after the app, or the entire phone, gets an update.

Consider “Latergramming”

It can be difficult— you want people to see your vacation sunset right now. Posting a picture of it later will give you back a semblance of your privacy, and won’t be a tip to thieves to head over to your home while you’re enjoying the sunset in Hawaii or brunching across town.

Think about turning off location services for other apps

Have a look at all your apps: ask yourself if they really need to know where you are. Some apps, like Yelp, need to know your location to make recommendations. But the rest? If you can’t figure out why they need to know where you are, then just turn Location Services “Off”. [highlight] This should definitely include your phone’s camera and any app that also has a camera built in [/highlight] . If you find that breaks a critical feature you needed, you can always turn it on again.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments. 

1 comment on “Stop telling Instagram Where you live”

  1. This was very helpful. I made sure to secure my Instagram account even more than I already had. Thank you for bringing this to light!

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