Yikes! This Is the Creepy Way Your iPhone Knows Every Place You’ve Ever Been

This feature has existed for years, but hardly anyone knows about it. Here’s how you can finally turn it off for good.

gpsblackzheep/ShutterstockIn the digital age, our privacy seems to be anything but our own. We might take care to limit which apps have access to our information and change our privacy settings on Facebook, of course. But for those who simply bring their phone along while they run errands—and let’s face it, that’s practically everyone—their information is at stake, too.

As it turns out, every place you’ve ever visited is currently being tracked and stored in your iPhone. From the local grocery store, to your workplace, to your very own home, your phone is collecting the addresses and the number of times you’ve been to every single location. Creepy, right?

It’s all thanks to a feature buried deep in your privacy settings called “Frequent Locations.” Although the culprit has been around for years, most iPhone users don’t even know it exists. Not only does the system know where you work and live, but it also remembers your arrival and departure times from each location. And it gets even creepier: Apple can use that log of detailed information to predict your day-to-day routine.

“Every place you go, where you shop, where you have a drink—it is all recorded,” computer scientist Noel Sharkey told Metro. “This is a divorce lawyer’s dream. But what horrifies me is that it’s so secret. Why did we not know about this?”

Apple reassures any freaked out iPhone users that the feature simply helps the company improve its Maps app. In other words, none of that data is intended to leave the phone. But it’s easy to see how this info could end up in the wrong hands. “If you put that information in someone else’s hands, then it becomes powerful, and in some cases, dangerous,” Sharkey said.

Want to disable the feature? Here’s what to do: Under your “Settings” menu, open the “Privacy” folder and select “Location Services.” Scroll all the way to the bottom until you reach “System Services,” and then scroll again and select “Frequent Locations.”

Scroll more and select “Frequent Locations.” Tap “Clear History,” and swipe left on the “Frequent Locations” tab. Congrats! You can now go about your errands without a digital eye on you at all times.

You’ll want to know the sneaky way Facebook is tracking where you are, too. And Google knows way more about you than you originally thought. Paranoid yet?

[Sources: Good Housekeeping, Metro, Travel+Leisure]