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Facebook photo 'Armageddon'

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Facebook photo 'Armageddon'

The new feature that could spell doomsday for your privacy rights.

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Facebook's latest feature has social network experts forecasting online Armageddon for photo privacy, concerned that users are allowing the new photo sync capability without knowing what they're using.

Facebook App users will soon be asked whether they want to 'get started' using the new feature.

Facebook photo sync

Facebook photo sync

Lecturer of Internet Studies at Curtin University Dr Tama Leaver says there are reasons for concern.

"We have a nasty tendency to click on things and try them without knowing what they do," he said.

It does mean that we're often giving away the rights to our own private information and sharing it with a company who might look like a communication tool but at the end of the day they're a corporate and their job is to try and figure out how to make money by using the private data that we share."

With the recent purchase of Instagram the directors of Facebook are clearly well aware of the snowballing popularity of photo sharing, and photo sync takes picture sharing to an all new level.

By turning on the feature you enable automatic syncing, which means the 20 most recent photos taken on your smartphone are uploaded to Facebook - and then every photo you take after that.

The photos are not automatically made public, they sit in a new private storage centre similar to Mac's iCloud where you can go through and select which photo's your followers can see.

What's raised concerns though is the fact that anything you upload, regardless of whether your friends can see it or not, is then property of Facebook.

And it's not just the photo that they own, but also all the data that relates to it.

Dr Leaver says it records your location, places nearby, the date time and even who's in the photo.

"It will record the exact geographic co-ordinates of where you stand when you take the photo," he said.

"Then there are the things that Facebook engineers can say but we can't; like advanced facial recognition that helps them really clearly work out who's in it so they can access their information.

"So that's an awful lot of data being generated when you just hit the little camera icon."

A spokesperson for Facebook released a statement last week saying they will "only utilise photo data after users decide to share them to Facebook".

However, Dr Leaver says that's not an adequate safeguard.

"It's happened in the past so it's not inconceivable that six months after we all start using this synchronisation tool and are really enjoying it suddenly it stop going into our hidden account and starts going straight into our timeline or something like that," he said.

"So there are definitely things to worry about and we will definitely have to be attentive if Facebook start to change their settings again.

It wouldn't be the first time Facebook has been caught out for leaking user data accidentally, with popular apps like Farmville selling on user identifications to advertising networks in the past.

With the permanency of online data, Dr Leaver advises users to approach with caution.

"I think everyone has to make an educated decision and I think you need to understand how it works before you turn it on," he said.

"Personally I wouldn't be using it.

"I do upload photos to Facebook and I'm quite happy to save them on my phone and decide which ones I want to upload from there, I think that's probably a safer way to avoid problems in the future.

0 comment

  • "It does mean that we're often giving away the rights to our own private information"

    I think there was an article on this siter earlier in the week refuting this very point. I believe if you read the agreement with Facebook the user still owns the rights to the photos.

    Can you please clarify this detial?

    Commenter
    axur
    Date and time
    December 05, 2012, 5:00PM
    • While you are allowing us to use the information we receive about you, you always own all of your information. Your trust is important to us, which is why we don't share information we receive about you with others unless we have:
      received your permission;
      given you notice, such as by telling you about it in this policy; or
      removed your name or any other personally identifying information from it.
      Of course, for information others share about you, they control how it is shared.
      We store data for as long as it is necessary to provide products and services to you and others, including those described above. Typically, information associated with your account will be kept until your account is deleted. For certain categories of data, we may also tell you about specific data retention practices.

      https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/your-info

      So its up to you what you share and when, and with who.

      Commenter
      Cherry
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 5:53PM
    • I suggest you read the agreement more carefully. Any/everything you upload via this mechanism confers any/all rights relating to said material to FB. They can do what they like with your stuff/your data when they like. Including selling it to related parties.

      Hint - Get rid of FB. Absolutely unnecessary, many more 'privacy friendly'/user controllable alternatives.

      Commenter
      Mr Bungle
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 6:22PM
    • @axur: that paragraph and the one preceding it look to me like they are intended to be general in nature and not referencing facebook in particular. I see how it could easily be read as talking specifically about facebook, but I'm not so sure

      Commenter
      chameleon
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 7:12PM
    • From the FB Data Usage Policy: "While you are allowing us to use the information we receive about you, you always own all of your information."
      "We use the information we receive about you in connection with the services and features we provide to you and other users like your friends, our partners, the advertisers that purchase ads on the site.."
      In other words even though you technically own the info, you've effectively allowed them free reign to use whatever you put on Facebook in anyway they see fit. Good luck with that

      Commenter
      Billy
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 8:07PM
    • What do you think 'rights' means? If you think that Facebook can't make an ad or publish a coffee book using your photos then yes they don't have that right. If you think that Facebook can't identify you as associating with person x in location y doing activity z then no you don't have that right.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      Oz
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 8:08PM
    • I second this request. thanks.

      Commenter
      rob
      Date and time
      December 05, 2012, 10:53PM
    • I think that is what I read this morning too, on the facebook site. Here it is, in the section explaining their proposed changes to their data use policy:

      "■Ownership of your content. A number of the comments suggested that we were changing ownership of your content on Facebook. We’re not. This is not true and has never been the case. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our SRR. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been. We’re not proposing to change this key aspect of how Facebook works."

      So it seems the user still controls their own data and information. Facebook may use it, but the user owns it.

      Link: http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-site-governance/responding-to-your-feedback/10152321231735301 (and then go to 'Explanation of Changes")

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      Preston
      Date and time
      December 06, 2012, 7:35AM
    • @axur, maybe you should read the user agreement yourself if you want to know what's in it...? Just a thought.

      Commenter
      JamesM
      Date and time
      December 06, 2012, 11:42AM
  • "What's raised concerns though is the fact that anything you upload, regardless of whether your friends can see it or not, is then property of Facebook."

    No. Not correct.

    And when we read the actual story, the photos are held completely privately until and if the user decides to publish them. Dr Leaver admits there is nothing wrong with this, he is concerned only if Facebook changes their rules. The headline should have read "If Facebook had done something completely different, it would have been Facebook photo Armageddon"

    So, nobody has identified a single problem with how the service works now other than it gives ownership of the image and metadata to Facebook, but this happens to be complete nonsense.

    Who's little beat-up was this idea, exactly?

    Commenter
    Peter Webb
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 05, 2012, 5:14PM
    Comments are now closed
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