Geotagging: The debate

When travelling we often like to post pictures of our adventures to social media. With our phone's gps function we can even add an almost exact location to the image, this is called geotagging.

Geotagging has caused quite some controversy over the years, especially in the US, as many people have criticized it as it can lead to overtourism, or expose the location of vulnerable animals and people. Especially when it comes to the outdoors, a movement of travel influencers has sprung up calling to not geotag, in order to keep places secret and protect their natural beauty. 

When you look up #nogeotag there's quite a lot of views, some given are:

  • The place is unknown and they want to keep it that way. They will geotag more well-known locations.
  • Geotagging is forever and will invite those wishing to 'exploit' an area in the outdoors. 
  • They have experienced overtourism and are hesitant about causing more.
  • Geotags invite hikers with no experience and no proper preparation to places that could be dangerous.

However, many voices from the BIPOC community have called to attention the privilege that people who enjoy the outdoors have. The tradition of hiking comes from a history of people who had the leisure time for this, the richer and more powerful members of society. Geotagging has opened up many doors for a more diverse group of people to visit and enjoy the outdoors. Refusing to geotag can be a form of gatekeeping, which is racist. They want people to think about the inherent prejudice behind the #nogeotag movement, a movement primarily run by white people. Some views are:

  • The way nature is experienced is different for everyone. Your specific view on how it should be experienced is not the only right way.
  • Influencers aren't the problem, they do offer creative solutions, the government is often lagging behind.
  • There's better ways to protect nature. For example through education. Inviting people to enjoy the outdoors will lead to more people caring and wanting to protect the outdoors. 

This is a debate with many sides to it and hopefully a creative solution will be found, but it will most likely be a push and pull for quite sometime. 

Do you have any thoughts? The articles I used mainly focus on the US, how is it in other places?

Read more

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/when-why-not-to-use-geotagging-overtourism-security

https://www.melaninbasecamp.com/trip-reports/2019/5/1/five-reasons-why-you-should-keep-geotagging

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/how-to-be-an-ally-in-the-outdoors

https://lnt.org/social-media-guidance/

https://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/race-public-lands-and-debate-over-geotagging#stream/0

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