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John McAfee’s Metadata Whoopsie

The strange, tangled John McAfee saga just got even stranger after metadata in a Vice magazine picture appeared to place the troubled security guru in Guatemala. Question is, is it all a hoax (and whose)?

John McAfee’s Metadata Whoopsie

The bizarre saga of John McAfee just became even more bizarre, courtesy of some .JPG metadata that apparently places the on-the-lam cybersecurity guru in Guatemala. McAfee, who is wanted for questioning by Belize police in the murder of his neighbor, let Vice editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro and photographer Robert King in on his life on the run.

However, EXIF metadata contained within a picture posted earlier today to Vice.com appears to pinpoint McAfee’s whereabouts in nearby Guatemala. According to the metadata, the current picture with McAfee was taken near the Rio Dulce—a popular gathering spot for sailboats located slightly inland from the Atlantic coast.

McAfee himself has updated his personal blog that “for my own safety, I manipulated the xif data on the image taken from my cellphone, and created a fake emergency so that the urgency of movement led, as I knew it would, to the hasty posting on their website.”

However, McAfee’s blog post—as Betabeat’s Jessica Roy noted–contradicts an explanation made by King on King’s Facebook page, which claims that the geotag was manipulated to keep their location secret.

The jury is still out on whether Vice accidentally outed McAfee’s location, whether McAfee intentionally leaked real location data, whether he intentionally leaked spoofed location data, or whether this is just a gonzo stunt on Vice‘s behalf.

About the author

Based in sunny Los Angeles, Neal Ungerleider covers science and technology for Fast Company. He also works as a consultant, writes books, and does other things.