CYBERSPACE: We here at High Times have high hopes that everyone out there is careful with what you are posting on social media…because if you post the wrong thing, it can seriously come back to bite you in the ass.
Consider this: A teenage girl in Louisiana was allegedly part of a group taking photographs of marijuana and posting them on Instagram. A detective with the narcotics division saw a picture of people with marijuana on the social media site and began an investigation. A short time later, said detectives showed up at the teenager’s home and busted her for possession; she was released on a summons to appear in court in December.
During the investigation, the detective learned the residence where the pot was located. Perhaps the teenager did not strip the geo-tagged locational metadata from the photo? Back in 2010, the creators of I Can Stalk U tried to raise awareness about hidden metadata added to smartphone photos. If you don’t disable geotagging and post your photo online, the photographer is allowing their movements to be recorded and analyzed by government or a nosy neighbor.
A quick search on Instagram shows that photos of weed are not in short supply. There are other ways of searching Instagram, including hashtag searches on the recently relaunched Copygram. Once a photo is made public, you lose control of it. Some of those “marijuana pictures” are collected and posted elsewhere. And remember that the U.S. government has hundreds of slang and street terms for cannabis, so that potentially means hundreds of terms for which to search.
Metadata can be dangerous, and if you forget to strip it out of photos, it could open the door for stalkers and cops alike. Please remember when showing off your buds that “marijuana” is one of about 400 “hot” keywords that are monitored by government agencies on social media.