Digital life reporter Katie Humphrey covers all things Internet and culture, from apps and social media to goofy memes and studies proclaiming tech will doom/save us all. Chat with her on Twitter: @HumphreyKatie.

The Internet knows where your cat lives

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: July 23, 2014 - 2:49 PM

Cat photos. They seem so cute and fun to share online -- until they give up your personal information.

"I Know Where Your Cat Lives" is a project out of Florida State University that maps the location of a million cat photos worldwide. All the pictures were tagged with the word "cat" on some public photo sharing site and include latitude and longitude coordinates in the photo metadata.

So where do you think people snap cat photos? I'm guessing at home. The Internet knows where your cat lives -- and, probably, where you live.

The site does not include any usernames associated with the cat photos or specific addresses, but it's precise enough make a person double check the camera privacy settings.

For instance, there are pictures of big cats -- tigers, lions and snow leopards -- on the Como Zoo portion of the map and a few snapshots of Grumpy Cat seed art at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Also, a lovely black cat housecat with gray eyes in the neighborhood in between.

As the researchers say on the site, "This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all."

Of course, such metadata isn't specific to cat photos. If you let your camera record or share location information, it's also on the other pictures you post -- dog, lunch, kids, sunsets, whatever.

So check your privacy settings. It might not seem like you're putting that much out there, but when someone with the smarts and computing skills comes along to prove a point, your cat might end up on a map.

And if your cat is already on the map? The map makers say you have the right to remove it "by increasing the privacy settings of the photos of your furry feline friends. Then within 30 days your photos will be gone from our site."

(Crazy cat photo above by Tom Horgen.)

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