When Social Media Strips you of Digital Rights

Twitters Cafe In Kenya. Photographed using Galaxy #s4ZoomKe
Twitters Cafe In Kenya. Photographed using Galaxy #s4ZoomKe
Twitters Cafe In Kenya. Photographed using Galaxy #s4ZoomKe
Twitters Cafe In Kenya. Photographed using Galaxy #s4ZoomKe


Many novice photographers (myself included) do not even know that a photo is usually much more than the visual. Behind any photo, and invisible to many, is the unseen metatags (metadata). Image metatags can be descriptive, technical and administrative information about the image.

Thus far, you might be wondering, so why should I care about metadata? OK. Lets break it down. Digital images are sharable and that opens the door to (among many things) plagiarism. According to Photometa.org metadata attributes are carried along with the image. Usually, metatags will indicate the exact type of device used to take the image, a description of the image, photographer and copyright details for the image. For a professional photographer, such information acts as a lasting memory; an enduring signature of their creativity and photographic talents. Photographers can even append their contact details to ensure that should you ever come across @truthslinger’s or @bikowesa’s photo, you can always contact him and book him for a photo-shoot.

Enter Social Media

Social media has revolutionized the concept of sharing. Making it easy and in many time viral. Even though users have the option of publishing privately, digital media such as photos (however private) usually find their way in the public arena where they are inadvertently archived forever (the Internet never forgets). More often than not, that photo will be taken, edited, memefied and shared further. So how does the photographer claim his/her ownership rights?

The answer to this question should be metadata. It should be carried along with the image as it is shared, remember?

But that’s usually not the case.

In a recent study by IPTC (whose results can be found here) it was proven that almost all social media platforms strips bare all image metadata the moment the image is shared. It may be argued that they do so to protect the users privacy (as metadata can reveal geographic locations among other parameters) but in the words of IPTC’s Managing Director, Michael Steidl “A social networking site is only as good as the information its members choose to share. If users provide rights data and descriptions within their images, these data shouldn’t be removed without their knowledge”.

GALAXY S4 zoom

So if you are travelling to catch the hybrid total solar eclipse and happen to carry a digital camera like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom device to #Sibiloi, you will definitely be able to take crisp clear, hopefully very creative, photos and you can input all metadata details you wish to have and share online. But Twitter (you can install the Android Twitter app on the Galaxy #S4ZoomKe camera, by the way) will automatically strip off all your metadata! How this affects your photography and what you feel about it may seem trivial to most but is actually the subject of intense debate and the main reason why technology trend-setters like Samsung have carefully added the ability for you to embed detailed metatags to your images.

Currently, the Galaxy S4 Zoom Camera Phone supports over sixty metatags such as:

Camera makeCamera model


Image description








ResolutionShutter speed: (value in milliseconds)Light source

Max aperture value

Focal length

GPS date/time (UTC)

GPS latitude

GPS longitude

GPS altitude

Chasing the eclipse: The long journey to Sibiloi
Chasing the eclipse: The long journey to Sibiloi

Here’s the complete list of metatags embedded by Galaxy S4 Zoom camera phone as extracted from one of the photos on this photostream.

Also follow this team as they Chase the Total Solar Eclipse at Sibiloi National Park.