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Geo-Tags Reveal Celeb Secrets

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Data collected by smartphones could make the work of celebrity hunters easier.

Credit: Ringo H.W. Chu / Getty

U.S. computer scientists have demonstrated that by using information from Internet images and videos it is possible to determine the addresses and locations of the people in those images. Many image and video files contain geo-tags, or latitude and longitude data, which are automatically added by devices such as smartphones.

International Computer Science Institute researchers have developed software that identifies YouTube videos tagged with words such as "home." The software examines the location data embedded in the videos to identify the house where it was shot, and then looks to see whether the users had recently uploaded videos made more than 1,500 kilometers away.

Still images also pose a risk. is designed to raise awareness of the privacy risks of geo-tagged images. The website uses software that looks for location data in images shared on Twitter and produces a stream of messages that identifies the current location of users. By tracking images posted on Twitter by a single user it is also possible to plot that user's movements on a map, says's creators Ben Jackson and Larry Pesce.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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