Identifiability and Metadata

Datarefers to information. A piece of data could be a line of text, an image or a list of figures. Data is content.

Metadata is information about data. Metadata provides an explanation or description of the data, which is useful for finding, using and understanding of the information. It provides the context to the image or video footage. It is like the catalogue of a library, and allows for searchability of content. There are three types of metadata:

  • Descriptive
  • Structural
  • Administrative

Descriptive metadata is typically used for discovery and identification, as information to search and locate an object, such as title, author, subjects, keywords, publisher. A simple example of metadata for a document might include a collection of information like the author, file size, date the document was created, and keywords to describe the document. Metadata for a music file might include the artist's name, the album, and the year it was released.

How to Locate Metadata

Usually, metadata is stored in a different file or under a different feature. For example:

  • In word documents, it is located under “Properties” of the document. Just right-click on the file.
  • In Facebook, you may find this under “Your Information” and then under “Your Categories”, such as your sudden change in service providers, or the fact you turned 18 because of your activities of going to bars, getting your driving licence, finally being able to vote, etc.
  • In most digital cameras, they are located in the EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) files, which includes information on the type of camera used (the make and model of the camera, and so determines which camera took what photo), camera settings like ISO speed, shutter speed, focal length, aperture, white balance, and lens type; your GPS location where you took the photo, and when (date and time) you took the photo, and the name and build of all programs which you used to view or edit the photo.

How to Remove Metadata

Removing Metadata from Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint

Metadata makes your content identifiable, and therefore, may make you as its producer identifiable. It leaves data tracks for anyone who is looking for more information about you to find.

As content producers, it is important to have the skill and knowhow to remove metadata from the content you produce.

Delete Metadata in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint

(Source: McDowell, Guy. 2019. “How to Completely Delete Personal Metadata from Microsoft Office Documents”. Online Tech Tips, 17 June. Available at https://www.online-tech-tips.com/ms-office-tips/how-to-completely-delete-personal-metadata-from-microsoft-office-documents/. Accessed on 9 February 2020)

Click on File in the top-left corner.

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On the Info page, click on Check for Issues on the left, near the middle of the page.

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Click on Inspect Document. The Document Inspector window will open.

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Make sure all the checkboxes in the Document Inspector are checked, then click the Inspect button.

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Once the Document Inspector is done, you’ll see information about what kind of data it found.

  • A green checkmark in a circle means it found no data of that type.
  • A red exclamation mark means it found data of that type.

Next to that data type’s description you will see the Remove All button.

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Click on that to remove all data of that type. There may be several of these buttons, so scroll down to ensure you get all of them.

After you have removed the metadata, you may want to click the Reinspect button, just to make sure it did not miss anything.

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Save your document now to ensure the data does not get re-entered.