Everywhere are signs
Archive for March, 2010
There’s a great item at the Washington Post about how Facebook is becoming the default place to share photos. It explains how people are using it instead of Photobucket and Flickr, probably because of the greater social sharing ability on Facebook. Certainly, when I shoot some fun photos of family and friends, Facebook is the first place I put them because that’s where most of those people will see them first.
But I know some things to be wary of that most users don’t. The article addresses those concerns: Facebook shrinks your photos to fit them within the constraints of the albums online, and compresses the images. That may not be a big problem with your cellphone pics, but if you upload real pictures from a real camera, it’s messing with your images. And as the article points out, if you are using Facebook as photo storage (instead of your own hard drive), you are basically throwing your good photos away. You’re not going to get good prints, or even good High Definition quality screen views, of your photos after Facebook has messed them up.
But there’s more. When you take photos with a digital camera, a bunch of useful information is embedded invisibly in the photo. The brand of camera, your exposure settings, the lens you used, the date and time it was taken. If you have a GPS attached to your camera, it adds that info so you can know exactly where you were when the photo was taken. If you use Photoshop or similar tools, you can embed valuable caption and copyright information into the photo.
When you upload a photo to Facebook, all of that is stripped out. It even loses its filename. Losing its filename is not that bad, if that basic information is still left in. But once you upload to Facebook, it’s all gone. That photo no longer belongs to you. Oh, you still theoretically own the copyright, but there’s nothing to identify the picture, and there’s nothing to keep others from taking your photo and using it for their own purposes.
On a sharing site like Facebook, it’s kind of OK to let others use those photos you upload, especially if they’re family and friends. Isn’t that the point? But at the same time, does it make sense for the photo to lose all sense of identity (when it was taken, who took it, where) if, as the article states, Facebook says “it’s not photo quality but context — a pinpointing of place, time and participants — that people care about these days.” Facebook took that all away when you uploaded the photo.