File Under: privacy

Flickr’s New ‘Geofence’ Settings Protect Your Geoprivacy

Fencing in the range with Flickr's new Geofence features

The popular photo sharing website Flickr has introduced a new way to geotag your photos without revealing your location to the entire web. Flickr’s new “Geofence” settings give users more granular control over their geotagged photos.

Perhaps the best part of the new Geofence features are how dead simple they are to use — simply draw a circle on a map, choose a geoprivacy setting for that area, and you’re done. Your new fence will apply to any future photo uploads and Flickr will offer to update the privacy settings on any existing images that fall within your new fence.

To get started head over to the Flickr Geo privacy page.

These days geotagging isn’t just something for nerds. In fact, chances are your camera (especially the camera in your phone) is recording location data in your images whether you know it or not. Like other location-aware services, geotagged photos are fast becoming a big part of the current cultural debate about who should be able to see which parts of your life on the web.

“A few years ago, privacy controls like this would have been overkill. Geo data was new and underused, and the answer to privacy concerns was often, ‘you upload it, you deal with it,’” writes Flickr developer Trevor Hartsell on the code.flickr blog. “But today, physical places are important to how we use the web. Sometimes you want everyone to know exactly where you took a photo. And sometimes you don’t.”

Previously, Flickr limited its geotagging options to a simple yes or no — either you shared location data with everyone or no one. Now you can share location data with only those people you trust. For example, you might leave the geodata for your vacation photos visible to everyone, but limit the location data of photos around your house to only your friends and family.

In those cases where there might be overlap between two geofences Flickr will default to the more restrictive of the two. For example, if you draw a circle around your house and limit it to the most restrictive group, “Family,” and then draw a circle around your whole neighborhood and limit that to “Friends,” any areas where the two overlap will still be limited to only the Family group.

Flickr’s new Geofence settings are among the best implemented privacy controls we’ve seen, striking a nearly perfect balance between genuine control and simplicity. And while we’re glad to see Flickr taking the lead, here’s hoping Facebook and others will copy these features into their own privacy controls.

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