Privacy tip: Make sure you’re not accidentally sharing your location with apps or people


Ever text a picture to an acquaintance or someone you just met? Depending on your phone and camera’s settings, you may have inadvertently sent over where you live, too. This is what someone can see from just a photo.

One good thing about social media is that most platforms wipe out this data. Still, they’re exposing you in other ways. Here’s how to check everything Facebook collects.

Your devices and apps know where you are, too, but you can stop that.

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Location, location, location

Your GPS app must know where you are to guide you to your destination. Your social media apps want to know where you are to serve you with more relevant ads. You can fiddle with these settings as needed, but you must be thorough. 

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Say you turn off location tracking on your phone but don’t do the same with your laptop. It defeats the purpose.

iPhone Apple

Person holds an iPhone (Fox News Digital)

Let’s start with your device and account settings.

Google

Your Google account is tied to various apps and services, making it a great place to start.

Location History

Location History saves your location wherever you take your smartphone. It’s off by default, but you may have turned it on and forgotten about it. No problem. Here’s how to turn it off:

  • Sign in to your account at myaccount.google.com or through the Google app.
  • Go to Data & privacy > Location History.
  • Tap or click Turn off and confirm your selection.
  • While you’re here, make sure Auto-delete is On.

One last thing: Open up Devices on this account to see a list of devices saving your location. Tap or click Turn off to disable these devices.

Location Sharing

Location Sharing lets you share your location with people you choose. You may be using this setting with your loved ones, but check to be sure.

  • Sign in to your account at myaccount.google.com or through the Google app.
  • Go to Data & privacy > Location Sharing.
  • If you’re not sharing your location with anyone, there’s nothing to do here.
  • Anyone you’re sharing your location with will be listed here. Tap or click Stop next to a name to stop sharing.

Smartphone warning: Check these settings NOW on your iPhone or Android

Location tracking on your iPhone

Location Services has two parts: A global setting to stop sharing your location with Apple and individual settings for each app you have installed on your iPhone. 

An Apple iPhone Pro

An Apple associate holds one of the new iPhone Pros during a launch event for new products at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022. – Apple unveiled several new products including a new iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, three Apple watches, and new AirPod Pros during the event.  (BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
  • From here, you have the option to switch off Location Services completely.
  • Alternatively, you turn off Location Services for individual apps by scrolling down the list and tapping the ones you want to change.

Location sharing

Location Sharing lets you share your location with family and friends in Messages, Find My and other services. Make sure you know who’s watching.

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > Share My Location.
  • If you’re sharing your location with anyone, you’ll see their names here.
  • Switch off Share My Location if you choose.

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Location tracking on your Android phone

Choose between turning off location tracking completely or fine-tuning each app’s setting.

  • Go to Settings > Location and toggle off Use Location.
  • If you leave the setting on, scroll down, and change the settings for each app by tapping on them.

Location sharing on Google Maps

You may have shared your location with friends and family through Google Maps. Here’s how to check up on that.

  • Open the Google Maps app and tap your profile.
  • Tap Location Sharing. If you’re not sharing your location with anyone, there’s nothing more to do.
  • If you’re sharing your location with anyone, you’ll see their names here. Tap a profile, then Stop for anyone you want to stop sharing with.

Google Maps and Apple Maps: 8 hidden settings you’ll use all the time

Location settings on Windows

You can turn location services off entirely on your Windows PC or for individual apps.

  • Go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Location.
  • Click Change, then toggle off Location for this device. This also prevents apps from knowing your location.
  • When Allow apps to access your location is switched on, scroll down and toggle off the setting for each app.
macbook apple

Person typing on macbook (Cyberguy.com)

Location services on macOS

Here’s how to change location services for your Mac:

  • Go to the Apple menu > System Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
  • Switch off Location Services.
  • If you want some apps to know your location, switch Location Services on or off for each app in the list.

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