Instagram Could Be Publicly Sharing Where You Live

I’ve thought very hard about writing this post. On the one hand, you all need to know that you must check your Instagram now and make sure you’re not sharing your house address with anyone who knows how to read a map. On the other hand, I don’t want to share how disgustingly easy it is to creep on others. What’s prompted me to just keep writing this is that creepers are gonna creep and are probably already in the know, so now you need to know too. Even if you think there is no way your images could be showing your home location, do me a solid and check, because it only takes a few minutes to find out how much you’re sharing. If you’re in the clear, awesome, if not, you’ve got some fixing to do.

The Inner Strength of Instagram’s Photo Map

Instagram has a photo map, found on your profile page, and it does exactly what you might expect, your photos become pin points of where you’ve been. This is a great feature if you travel all over the place and want to share that, on the other hand though, you could unwittingly be telling people where you are at any given moment (even at home.) Its one thing if you voluntarily add the location of where a photo was taken, that’s your choice. But here are some instances that means anyone with an Instagram account really should go check that they’re not over-sharing. Even if you are extremely careful with what info you share, you might have missed this bit. I’ve done the creeper thing and checked a few accounts that I follow (’cause I was entirely curious over whether it was just me, or if this was widespread,) and guess what, those who you would imagine being extreme in locking down their location have this section open.

  • If you choose to share a location that Instagram doesn’t readily find, it’s going to be “helpful” and geotag something different. Or more specifically, it’ll geotag wherever you happen to physically be if your GPS is turned on. I wish I still had an example of this (I deleted it the moment I saw it on my map,) but essentially: Instagram’s geotag did not accept “Queen & Yonge” as a proper location, even though every Torontonian knows where that is. So while the photo still stated “Queen & Yonge” if you looked at that picture through my feed, the profile map had helpfully pinned it at my address, ’cause that’s where I had uploaded the picture from (my battery died while I was at Queen & Yonge, so I had to wait until I had a charge again.)
  • Bottom line, if your GPS is turned on and you have “Add to Photo Map” selected, Instagram will helpfully geotag your photo wherever you might be, especially if it doesn’t recognize the location you’ve “created”.
  • If you’re one of the cool kids who adds their website or Facebook URL in the location section of their picture after it’s published, make sure the font is grey. If you see blue font instead, that means its linked, but not to the website you’ve listed. That link will be geotagged to wherever you may be at that moment, including home.
Instagram Add to Photo Map

Instagram can be a creeper’s best friend if not used properly. Make sure “Add to Photo Map” is turned off at all times, and add location to image (if needed) after its published.

Why is this happening?

Instagram has a section that asks you if you want to add a location to your Photo Map, and even if you leave it blank but turned on, they’re going to be helpful and add whatever location they’ve found that’s closest to you by GPS. The “Name This Location” part is misleading, as you may be compelled to think if you leave that blank, it won’t actually post anything. The photo in your stream will not actually show a location if you don’t name it (that gives us a dull sense of security that we haven’t shared that bit,) but the photo will still show up on your photo map; they’re somehow two separate entities.

How to Fix Instagram From Over-Sharing

First, turn off your GPS. Don’t have this on unless its absolutely necessary (like you need to figure out where you are while traveling.) Next, turn off the “Add to Photo Map” in Instagram – you’ll see the toggle when you add photos to your feed (see image above.)  If you really want to add the location of where that particular photo was taken, make sure your GPS is off, in case Instagram cannot find the location you mean, so that you’re not risking having it set to your house address while updating just one more pic just before you fall asleep.

To find out if Instagram has pinned photos to your house address:

  1. Go to your profile page and click on the Map icon (third one out of a set of four, just below your bio.)
  2. Deep dive into the map, focusing on where you live.
  3. If you do find pictures hanging over your house roof, or in your backyard, click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  4. Click Edit and then select, by unchecking the photos from the group, that you want to have disappeared from your map.
  5. Make sure “Add to Photo Map” is turned off the next time you add a photo and never turn it on again.
Instagram Remove Photo Map

How to find where to edit Instagram’s Photo Map.

Instagram Remove All Photo Map

How to group remove geotags from Instagram’s Photo Map

I’m hoping you didn’t find any photos in your Photo Map, but if you did, let’s just remember how to keep this from happening again with future pics! <3

Living in Superman’s Metropolis (aka Toronto, Canada), Aeryn Lynne found a way to entirely over-share everything she loves, and make a career out of it! Ultimately a geek, she waxes poetically over technology, squees over comic art, hunts down the nerdiest places to visit and literally sparkles, thanks to her makeup addiction. Read More…

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13 Comments on “Instagram Could Be Publicly Sharing Where You Live

Randa @ TBK
January 27, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I removed these Geo Tags last year when I found them. It was a little scary! I left the ones that linked to my old house though. I have been wanting to be one of the cool kids that link to my blog – but it’s not worth it. haha

Aeryn Lynne
January 27, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Once the photo is published, its quick to check if the location area is linking your blog URL to anywhere – if it’s blue its linked (and GPS needs to be turned off then try again, heh.) If the text is grey, you’re fine! 🙂

January 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Tho is very scary. I recently went to a luncheon that discussed give technology to children. I can see this being a huge problem. Thank you for showing its importance And how to turn it off.

Aeryn Lynne
January 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm

NP! I was going to say, that’s a great thing about the Windows phones from that event, they don’t have Instagram. Except the Nokia branded Windows phones DO have Instagram, so parents would have to be careful with that too.

January 27, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Wow ! I had no idea about this – good to know!

January 27, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Good to know! I don’t have photos on my map, I don’t use my GPS.

January 27, 2015 at 7:08 pm

I found a bunch and removed them thank to you. This is really scary and i bet many do not realize the dangers

January 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Thank you you SO much! I had to remove 76!! WTH? Creepy!! Especially since I am so careful about that!!

Deanna T.
January 27, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I had no clue. If you had asked me I would have said I had my location turned off, imagine my surprise when I found my house was right on the map. Thanks so much for pointing this out.

Aeryn Lynne
January 27, 2015 at 9:53 pm

I’m right there with ya hun. I’ve continued to tout safe internet practices, only to find a few pics pointing directly to my house even though I swore my location was turned off. Now we know, and will just have to keep an eye on it. :/

Tamara @ We3Travel
January 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Great advice! I turn off add to map when I’m home but didn’t know how you could edit geotags.

January 29, 2015 at 1:55 am

I think that this may be a big problem for all because as they will feel this as their privacy has been spoiled because some may not needed to express their place of living to the world.

Aeryn Lynne
January 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Its certainly a huge problem! I’m just waiting to hear a parent suing Instagram over their child’s account showcasing where they live to potential stalkers. Or how a celebrity’s home was stalked by an Instagram follower. The potential is there unfortunately. I’m sure there this something in the TOS that states we’re on our own for using their service, but this is incredibly short-sighted on Instagram’s behalf. I’m fairly certain it would be easy to implement a bit of code on their app that simply states, “Do not add photos to map around 1/2 a mile of this address, without express permission:……..” and have users add their address (or any address that sits within 1/2 a mile of their home,) to their account for added security.


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