Recently, you have likely seen a post going around on apps like Instagram and Facebook with a pink background and "IMPORTANT" typed out in big, bold red letters. This image recommends checking if "precise-location" has been automatically turned on in your phone's settings and warns about strangers being able to see exactly where you are if that specific setting is enabled. But can strangers really view your precise location online?
Every few months or so, it seems like a new warning goes around social media about dangerous practices that users need to look out for. Around back-to-school time, there have been warnings about posting your children's specific school and teacher information. There is a new trend spreading on TikTok where many mothers are removing all images and videos of their kids because of concerns over safety.
Related: How to Keep Kids Safe Online
But what about this latest warning? Is there any truth to the viral post? Let's dive in.
What Specific Warning is Going Around About Your Precise Location on Instagram?
Instagram account @goaldiggercoachingltd (which focuses on "Social Media and Influencer Management" and has around 32k followers) posted the infamous pink and red warning about precise location settings on your phone, and it has been reshared all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more social media apps.
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In the viral image, @goaldiggercoachingltd says that ever since a new update, "people can find your EXACT location from Instagram and this is being used by individuals to target people to commit crimes including theft, stalking etc."
Users are then directed to go into their phone settings and turn off the "precise location" option.
Can Strangers Really View Your Precise Location Online?
According to Instagram themselves, the answer is no. They recently tweeted about seeing a meme going around about how Instagram uses "precise location" and they addressed the warning.
"To be clear, we don't share your location with others," the @InstagramComms account has shared. "Similar to other social media companies, we use precise location for things like location tags and maps features. People can manage Location Services via their device settings, and tag locations on their posts if they want to share that information."
That being said, it might give you peace of mind to turn off location access to various social apps (just remember apps like Uber and Google Maps need location access to function properly).
While some people are passionate about tagging their locations when they try out a new restaurant, meet up with friends at a park, go on vacation, etc., there are others disturbed by the idea that anyone who follows them (or any stranger if they have a public account) could look through a variety of location-tagged photos to get an idea of their frequent stops, what they live near and when they aren't currently at home (if posting while on a weekend getaway or longer vacation).
But it's up to you if you choose to tag your location. And if you don't want to ever accidentally select a location, you can always turn off your location on Instagram and other social apps.
How to Turn Off Location on iPhone
The process for turning off your Instagram location and Facebook precise location (as well as location access for any app) are the same. First, you'll want to find the "Settings" app on your phone and then keep scrolling down until you reach the list of your downloaded apps.
Then, you can go down your list of apps and open up apps to see if your location sharing is turned on or off, and make any changes accordingly.
After all, as Instagram stated, some users want to be able to tag their locations. So if you're wondering how to turn on location on your iPhone, this is also where you can do it.
Individuals have options such as never allowing location access in the app, requesting to be asked the next time or when they share, or allowing location access while the app is in use.
So, while some users are totally fine with social media apps having access to their location for tagging purposes, you still have the opportunity to go down your list of apps and turn location access on or off depending on what you're comfortable with.