Hey Instagrammers, I know where you live!

This one is subtle, but very important to be aware of. Until recently, once a user added their location to a photo they were posting, Instagram would take this as their default preference for all future photos they would post. That is, Instagram would tag all future photos with the location from which they were uploaded. This alone isn’t really the problem. The problem is that Instagram did not make this obvious to users — so what has transpired, is millions of people uploading millions of photos in the one place they use Instagram the most. Their homes.

So, here’s what has happened. You’re out, snapping lots of photos. You come home, put you’re feet up, and start posting your best photos. Cool. The problem is that all those photos are being tagged to your current location, unless you specify otherwise. It’s opt-out. That photo of the beach in Spain? It’s being tagged to your home in London. Why? Because you uploaded it from your home in London. This is all happening behind the scenes. There’s hardly anything in the app that informs you of this, except one place: Your Photomap.

Take for example this Swedish Fitness Model. She has almost 12,000 followers, and lots of admirers, I’m sure. She has posted 1440 photos, 1224 photos (85% of them) are posted with their location. And if my theory is right, that is, the largest percentage have been posted in her home. Then we should be able to figure our where she lives by looking at her Photomap. Here’s what it looks like. I’ve obscured her identity to at least try and maintain her anonymity.


Most of the photos are taken in Sweden, and as we zoom we can see most are taken in a particular part of Sweden. All we have to do, is continue to follow the biggest group of photos at each zoom level, and we find ourselves here (below), at her home. Also, as far as she’s concerned, that watermelon photo was not tagged to a location. Because usually, when a photo is tagged to a location, it says the name of the location under the persons username above the photo. That is the user expectation, at least.


Try it yourself. Go to someone’s Instagram profile, tap on their Photomap, and follow the largest bunch of photos at each zoom level, and you’ll probably find out where they live. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does work, it’s quite obvious where they may live.

To me, this seems like an oversight on Instagram’s behalf. There’s nothing to gain by posting photos in a location if A) the user doesn’t want them on their map B) if the photos weren’t even taken in that location. For example, I’ve seen beach photos tagged in city centres. It doesn’t really make much sense. Also, when you consider Instagram is now integrated with Tinder. I can tell you for a fact, it’s pretty easy to find out where people live before they even know who you are. That’s not very safe.

Here’s how you remove photos from your Photomap

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Open your Photomap.
  3. Tap “Edit” in the corner.
  4. Deselect all the photos you want to remove.
  5. Done.

Tell me what you think

I’m on Instagram @youssefsarhan and I’m on Twitter @ys.

If you liked this or think it’s important, please share with your friends as I’m pretty sure many of them have no idea they are sharing their location like this.


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