Yet another reason not to eat fast food…

Image

Gross, right? Pictured above is a Burger King employee ruining what is probably the only healthy thing that you can find at a Burger King. What’s even worse is that employee decided that this wasn’t enough, and that he wanted to post this picture with the caption “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King” to the Internet to stir up some trouble. Well trouble is exactly what he got. Shortly after posting this picture to 4chan.org, our star employee was surprised to find out that the collective effort of 4chan users was able to determine which Burger King he worked at in the United States. Before he could do some damage control and delete the thread, people were already sending Burger King emails and phone calls about the incident. This lead to the employee, the photographer, and the supervisor on duty being promptly fired. How did this happen, though? How were they able to find out where this guy lived just from a picture?

The answer is EXIF Data. EXIF Data, which stands for Exchangeable Image File data, is the data that almost all digital cameras store along with the picture taken. This information includes time and date, aperture settings, shutter speed, ISO speed, focal length of the lens, and even the model of the camera phone. It also just so happens to store your geological location when taking the picture. That’s right, that’s how they did it. It isn’t even that hard to view someone else’s EXIF Data on their picture, there are simple web browser plug-ins that let you do just this. Why is all this information being stored, though? I’m not a photographer, but I can see the usefulness. Having this kind of information handy on your pictures can be useful if you’re trying to tweak, or recreate a shot using the same settings on your camera. Also, these EXIF data browser plug-ins are available for photographers to see the data on other photographer’s shots if they happen to like it. It seems like this is a case of good used for bad.

So what should we all take from this? First off, don’t mess with other people’s food. Secondly, if you’re going to post a picture online then you have to be careful, especially if you don’t know the people you are posting to. Finally, if you absolutely feel the need to post a picture online make sure that you are using something like Windows QuickFix, which will completely erase the EXIF Data, along with your GPS location.

As a little bit of added controversy, I think it’s worth mentioning the employee’s side of the story. He claims that he was just playing a joke, and that the lettuce was past the throw out date. After standing in it and taking the picture, he claims he just got rid of it. In my opinion, that is still nothing to joke about and deserved to be fired, but what do you think?

Sources

http://www.labnol.org/software/remove-photograph-metadata/19588/

http://www.digicamhelp.com/glossary/exif-data/

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-burger-king-lettuce-4chan-20120718,0,3874620.story

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12 thoughts on “Yet another reason not to eat fast food…

  1. This was an interesting topic and can be eye opening to some people. The EXIF Data could be used to track someone (well, where they take their pictures) and could be a large invasion of privacy. If someone can track every where I go just by looking at the pictures I post on Facebook or other social websites, that could lead to unwanted consequences. I think that Burger King’s only option was to fire the employees or else the public would be very disapproving of Burger King. People should not take these things lightly, especially when representing the company they work for.

    • Exactly, and it’s sad something so cool like EXIF data is being used for the wrong reasons. I went to Alfred to visit some of my old roommates and one of them enjoys photography in his spare time. He knew exactly what EXIF data was and says it’s the reason he was able to take some pretty good pictures by copying the same settings that other photographers used.

      After talking with him he said that he really doesn’t even use the GPS location of the picture and is just interested in the other settings. This raises an interesting question on why the GPS is enabled by default. I feel like a great way to keep EXIF data for photographers and maintain privacy at the same time would be simply disabling this feature.

  2. After looking into the EXIF camera data, I found a nice add-on for Firefox that allows you to see all the data behind the photo. More people should be educated on what EXIF data is, and consider turning off geo tagging on their smartphones.

    • I’ve been playing around with Exif Viewer, is that what you were using? I see there is another one called FxIF but I haven’t taken a look at that one yet.

  3. This story is amazing !!
    This guy made a super bad reputation for BK, and I think it’s completely his fault and we cannot judge BK for something like that because there is no way to control such a thing !!
    But the story was great and the way they caught him was so smart and hilarious !!

    • I’m pretty sure he figured that people have gotten away with stuff like that in the past. What he didn’t know though was those people didn’t have EXIF data linked to their picture. Even I didn’t know about EXIF data before this.

  4. When you post something on the internet you should first determine if this could ever negatively affect you in anyway. This guy was assuming that he was protected because it doesn’t show his face. He obviously didn’t think out every possibility. So he was foolish and he got in trouble, at least he wouldn’t make that mistake again…hopefully not.

    • Exactly. I’ve always thought of the Internet as a barrier made of tissue paper. You can say anything you want or do anything you want to other people, but you quickly realize how flimsy your wall of protection is.

  5. I saw this linked on Reddit a while ago. I laughed, not at the picture itself but the story behind it. This story attracted so much appeal because it represents something we have all thought of at least once when eating out. Most of the time we think of cooks or waitresses spitting in our food, but stepping on it fits in the same category. Ignorance is bliss. As we enter into an age surpassing Moore’s Law’s predictions, we will see an increasing amount of our privacy fading away. I mean this was posted on 4Chan, a website known for it’s anonymity, and the person was still found very quickly. EXIF data is not a part of common knowledge and there are many other components just like it. EXIF data and it’s like can undoubtedly be used for good, but it also scares me a little bit when I think about what could come as a result of ignorance. Not to play the devil’s advocate, but what if that kid was telling the truth? What if he really was going to throw it out and it was just a joke? I’d do it(as a joke) if I was bored enough.

  6. Well this is rather silly. I don’t understand the brainwaves that are happening when somebody decided that it will be risible to stand in lettuce. It’s kind of humorous how fast all of his information was obtained and traveled and how the strange guy ended up losing his job over his lettuce shoes. This really just proves that once anything that information can be gathered from is on the Internet, it can be obtained and used against you.

  7. I think that this is another example on how people think that they will never get caught for anything that they do. I’m sure if he knew that all that was going to happen then he wouldn’t have done what he did. I’m not sure if he should have gotten fired from it but at least got suspended or something along those lines.

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