Don’t Use Facebook for Photo Storage

The Washington Post just published an interesting article called “Pros and cons to Facebook’s fast-growing role in digital photography“, which contains quite a few interesting statistics. Among them,

  • 40% of households with digital cameras no longer make prints
  • 65% of people sharing photos online do it through Facebook
  • Less then 33% of people realize that Facebook stores photos at a decreased resolution

The last statistic is quite startling. It means that we may have a whole generation of people who are essentially “throwing away their negatives” after “making very small prints”.

Facebook doesn’t have the capacity to store all the world’s photos without shrinking them first. Facebook just announced that it will increase its maximum photo size by 20 percent. But even with the upgrade, the photo quality on Facebook isn’t useful for more than basic onscreen viewing.

[…] It’s also troubling that most users aren’t aware that uploading a picture to Facebook — and then deleting it from your camera — means you’ve lost the original image for good. […] This is probably because Facebook photos look just fine on a computer screen.

Remind your friends and family to keep all their original image files. Otherwise, they might need higher resolution versions in the future but find themselves stuck with 720px.

Image credit: Looking at Facebook photo_2008 by hoyasmeg

  • LaurieMann

    I agree. Always save your photo originals to your PC. I have some photos on my Website, on Flickr and on Facebook, but I always save the originals to my laptop first. And make periodic backups.

  • izzat

    I upload pictures on Facebook for the purpose of sharing, no more than that. Hence, I still keep the original pictures in my HDD for future use. I think my friends do it the same.

  • Rick

    Also, from what I understand about their TOS, once you upload your pics, you're giving FB permission to use them however they want. I don't mind licensing my stuff under Creative Commons, but that's a little too close for comfort for me. That said, I've uploaded some of my own pics.

  • Shannon McCann

    People do that??? Really?? It never occurred to me to use facebook as a location for photo storage, ever. It never even occurred to me that others do. The main reason being that I just don't trust it and I take way too many photos to even consider it anyway. The other for exactly what you mentioned here, the loss of resolution. I have all my photos on my internal HD and regularly backed up onto an external HD, once I have my server set up, all will be kept there.

  • Michael Zhang

    Right. I'm sure most people who do photography even semi-seriously have one or more backups of their full res files =)

  • MCLepus

    I keep my originals archived on an External HD. some are hard copy. There's something about looking at an album lying in your lap.

  • Nicolas Laplante

    I post pictures on Facebook only for sharing. I do it on my personal website too, and I keep all originals on my PC. It's common sense!

  • lanceanz

    Many people posting on Facebook are only too happy that the resolution ain't so great. They're also not so likely to be the kind of photographers who take great care with backups. At least the photos will still be on FB – for a while at least.

  • MissMontenaro

    I have told my friends and customers many times that what they “get back” if they download pics from Facebook is not the same thing as they uploaded. Woosh …. I might as well talk to their hands because their face isn't listening.

  • Marianita_mf83

    I donĀ“t get the idea of using facebook for storage… it has never crossed my mind… people do that?? seriously?

  • manifestphoto

    To delete your files after posting them to facebook is just stupid -regardless of the resolution they are “saved” at. Are people really doing this? Digital Darwinism.

  • Shannon McCann

    I would hope most people who have an iota of common sense would back up their photos… but reality reminds me that common sense is not all that common ;).

  • Heather

    Reply @rick:

    No, the ToS that Facebook had really meant that they could use your pictures for their ads, NOT that they owned them.

    After the outcry, FB changed the wording to be better understood. If you don't want your pics to be used for ads, you need to block that from happening, unfortunately I don't know the steps to do it anymore.

  • Rick

    Thanks for the clarification! Not sure I really want to voluntarily contribute to FB's marketing strategies though.

  • aled

    What I find most surprising is that people don't think to keep their originals! I had no idea people were this ignorant. I don't mean that as an insult, but they clearly need a bit of education regarding digital photograph storage.

  • leeisme

    Facebook is only a platform to share. All my photos are stored on my hard drive, burned to dvd and also left on the original SD cards.
    Faceboook only share your photos to how you have your privacy settings set up and what permissions you give to external applications. It is up to all of us how much anyone can see, you can even group different levels of friends in different lists and have varying levels of access.
    Learning about your security/privacy settings and how to use them effectively (on any site) should be a priority before sharing any files, or any personal information for that matter.

    That in mind, ANYTHING put online can be viewed by anyone even half way competent with a computer and internet, regardless of your settings.

  • JonathanPDX

    And remember to BACK THEM UP!

  • Rae

    I'm glad I ran across this. I am one of the many who have been basically storing my pics on FB with the thought that I would download them later to a CD. However, most of the pics I take are from my iphone so I don't really expect them to be great. I save the important picture taking for my real camera. Having said that, I never thought too much about the decreased resolution and my inability to get it back. I will just have to uploading from my camera and learn how to store my photos on my laptop.

  • facebook123

    Facebook is baaad for photo sharing

  • facebook123
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  • Kkmk

    I dont use “fakebook”..

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  • Kevin Martini

    me either! I’ve been clean for over a year now.

  • Kevin Martini

    me either! I’ve been clean for over a year now.

  • Storage Leighton Buzzard

    i have just joined FB for my company The Secure-store, a company providing self storage in Leighton Buzzard and loaded a few photos but would always keep copies

  • Nicholas

    Yeah, great idea. Store them there and show them around. Convenient. Of course, you’d keep your photos on your own disk as well. Common sense.

  • ravi

    do facebook store photos forever in their server? once i delete photo, it does not get deleted from facebook server? please let me know. if they are storing user photo after deleting them, what can we do as user?

  • ravi

    do facebook store photos forever in their server? once i delete photo, it does not get deleted from facebook server? please let me know. if they are storing user photo after deleting them, what can we do as user?

  • Lee Joonmin

    I only use Facebook as a platform to showcase my photographs. Keeping a backup at home is extremely important. In fact, I keep two backups! One in my desktop backup drive and one in a portable HDD.

  • TheSupremus

    Good on Facebook. You people honestly have no ideal how to run a Network.