If you post photos of your cat on social media, the internet probably knows exactly where your cat lives. And, unless your cat has its own place, that’s probably where you live too. Florida State University professor Owen Mundy was trying to tell you this when he created I Know Where Your Cat Lives — an interactive map featuring the photos of millions of cats whose photos provide their whereabouts. A post on Mundy’s website explained his process:
The cats were accessed via publicly available APIs provided by popular photo sharing websites. The photos were then run through various clustering algorithms using a supercomputer at Florida State University in order to represent the enormity of the data source.
Mundy wanted to expose “the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all,” with this project. It’s likely that few of these cats owners thought about the implications of posting a simple cat photo, but any image uploaded with enough metadata can easily give away your location and more.
Here’s a Kickstarter to support hosting for the site. Now turn off your geolocator.