Would you give millions of strangers your home address? You could be doing just that! That’s because a controversial new smartphone app reveals the exact location of photos you upload on Instagram.
The app is called The Beat. And it was developed by researchers at Rutgers University.
It collects location data from Instagram, and pinpoints the precise location on Google Street View. And the app has been nicknamed a “stalker's dream.”
Here’s why: Say you type in “hashtag Patriots”. Every Instagram photo with that hashtag will pop up, with a Google Street View photo of the location. Like at a football stadium or bar or someone’s house where they’re watching the game and taking pictures.
Rutgers University officials say they’ve limited the creepiness potential by banning certain hashtags from being searched for in the first place, like hashtag underwear.
But privacy experts are outraged – and warn this is basically inviting criminals to hunt you down! And they point out that censoring a few searches doesn’t filter out the creeps or protect you!
For example, hashtag bikini is an acceptable search! And if a girl in a bikini takes an Instagram photo of a herself in her apartment with a bikini hashtag the app will pair the shot, with a Google Street View picture of the outside of her apartment complex – for the entire world to see.
So, how can you use Instagram without becoming a stalking victim? Experts say to set your account settings to private – so only your friends have access to them. Because if they’re in public view – literally anyone can see them – AND your exact location.