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How to Disable Facebook Places Location Tracking

If this feature creeps you out a little bit, you're not alone.

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Tourist couple using smartphone in coffee shop.
Maria Teijeiro/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Have you ever bothered to click on the "Places" map on your Facebook timeline? It kind of creeped me out the first time I tried it. It almost felt like Facebook was stalking me.

Hovering my mouse pointer over any of the red dots on the Facebook Places map revealed pictures I had been tagged in at each location, status posts I had made from different places, etc. I had never really thought that Facebook was aggregating all of this geotag data together, and frankly, I'm not crazy about them doing this for me. Depending on your privacy settings, your friends and others may also be able to see this information.

If you don't like Facebook presenting your location information in a scrapbook-for-stalkers format, you can turn it off (sort of). Let's take a look at a few things you can do to remove your location data from the Facebook Places map.

Step 1 - Remove Geotags From Your Pictures Before You Upload Them to Facebook

To ensure that future pictures posted to Facebook and other social media sites don't reveal your location information, you should make sure that the geotag information is never recorded in the first place. Most of the time this is done by turning off the location services setting on your smartphone's camera application so that the geotag information doesn't get recorded in the picture's EXIF metadata. There are also apps that will help you strip our the geolocation information of pictures you've already taken. You might want to try deGeo (iPhone) or Photo Privacy Editor (Android) to remove the geotag info from your photos before uploading them to social media sites.

Step 2 - Disable Location Services for Facebook on Your Mobile Phone / Device

When you first installed Facebook on your mobile phone, it probably asked for permission to use your phone's location services so that it could provide you with the ability to "check-in" at different locations and tag photos with location information. If you don't want Facebook knowing where you are posting something from, then you should revoke this permission in your phone's location services settings area.

Step 3 - Enable the Facebook Tag Review Feature

Facebook recently made an attempt to go from a super-granular privacy settings structure to an ultra-simple one. It now appears that you cannot selectively prevent people from tagging you at a location, however, you can turn on the tag review feature which allows you to review anything you've been tagged in, whether it's a picture or a location check-in. You can decide whether tags get posted before they are posted, but only if you have the tag review feature enabled.

To Enable the Facebook Tag Review Feature:

1. Log into Facebook and select the settings padlock icon next to the "Home" button at the top right corner of the page.

2. Click the "See More Settings" link from the bottom of the "Privacy Shortcuts" menu.

3. Click the "Timeline and Tagging" link on the left side of the screen.

4. In the "How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?" section of the "Timeline and Tagging Settings menu, click the "Edit" link next to "Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook?"

5. Click the "Disabled" button and change its setting to "Enabled".

6. Click the "Close" link.

After this setting is enabled, any post that you are tagged in, whether it's a photo, location check-in, etc, will have to gain your digital stamp of approval before it's posted to your timeline. This will effectively prevent anyone from posting your location without your express permission.

Step 4 - Limit Who Can See Your "Stuff" on Facebook

Also located in the newly revamped Facebook privacy settings area is a "Who can see my stuff" option. This is where you can limit the visibility of future posts (such as ones with geotags in them). You may choose "Friends", "Only Me", "Custom", or "Public". I advise against choosing "Public" unless you want the whole world knowing where you are and where you've been.

This option applies to all future posts. Individual posts can be changed as they are created or after they are made, in case you want to make something more public or private later on. You can also use the "Limit Past Posts" option to change all of your old posts that might have been "Public" or "Friends of Friends" to "Friends Only".

It's a good idea to check your Facebook privacy settings about once a month as they seem to make sweeping changes on a regular basis that could affect the settings you have in place. Check out our Facebook Privacy and Security section of our site for more guidance.

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