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Social network giant Facebook has been accused of a huge ‘data-grab’ after encouraging its users to install the new feature Photo Sync, which will automatically allow the synchronisation of images between their mobile device and Facebook account. Tony Walker, Director of IT Support North West is urging his customer not to enable the app to protect their privacy online.
Liverpool, Merseyside (PRWEB) December 13, 2012
Social network giant Facebook has been accused of a huge ‘data-grab’ by civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch after encouraging its users to install the new feature Photo Sync, which will automatically allow the synchronisation of images between their mobile device and Facebook account.
The launch marks the first foray into cloud storage by Facebook as users’ photographs are uploaded automatically into a private album. From this hidden album, Facebook users can elect which images they wish to share with friends on their timeline or in private messages, and which should be deleted or remain completely private. Here images will reside on Facebook’s servers, hidden from public approval awaiting publication.
‘Facebook’s Q&A article in the Help area stresses that the Photo Sync album is private, but experts say that the social network can benefit from the huge amount of meta data generated, enabling it to discover countless details individual to each user,’ Tony Walker is director of IT Support North West, suppliers of IT support services in Liverpool. ‘At a basic level, advertising could be tailored by geographical location and on a more advanced level by the content of the images themselves.’
The automatic nature of the Photo Sync app also suggest that Facebook will automatically gain access to its users most private and intimate images, including some which will no doubt violate its’ own terms of service.
‘Automatic uploading of every photo means every single image you capture on your mobile device,’ says Tony Walker, provider of IT support to Liverpool businesses. ‘However if someone snaps a photo of you against your will - you would usually ask them to delete the image from their device. This new app prevents that as a copy would still remain in their Photo Sync album in their Facebook account.’
A prompt to ‘Get Started’ will appear across the top of your Facebook feed if your mobile phone or device can use the Photo Sync app.
‘The good news is that users will have to opt-in to use Photo Sync, and thankfully it’s not enabled by default,’ explains Tony Walker, provider of Liverpool IT support services. ‘This is a sharp contrast to Facebook’s facial recognition technology which was banned across Europe,’
When Facebook revealed the introduction of facial recognition technology in 2011, the functionality was only accessible to North American users, whilst other users around the globe saw the status of the function in their privacy settings as ‘not yet available’.
‘This was frustrating as it meant that the function could not be enabled or disabled,’ says Tony Walker provider of IT support in Liverpool. ‘We then had to wait until Facebook decided to allow the function on our account, which meant regular monitoring of our privacy settings,’
It is possible to choose how the images are synced with your Facebook account, and the feature can be turned off entirely too. Facebook has also assured that for those concerned about their phone bills, smaller versions of images (100k) are uploaded over 3G and 4G whilst larger photographs will only be uploaded when connected wirelessly, and the social network promises not to sync images when the device’s battery levels are low.
‘Although at a first glance the Photo Sync app appears to be very useful, many are concerned about how the data in the Photo Sync album can be used in the future,’ explains Tony Walker, director of IT Support North West, who provides IT support in Liverpool and IT support in Lancashire. ‘Whether users with the app enabled decide to share any of the photographs or not, Facebook itself will still have access to those images.’
Meta data for each photograph, such as the geographical location or the facial recognition technology to discover the people in the image will help Facebook build a comprehensive database or where users have been and who they have socialised with from the information they automatically give to Facebook via Photo Sync.
‘This meta data could potentially be used to tailor advertising around each user,’ explains Tony Walker, provider of Lancashire IT support services.
‘If you agree to enable the Photo Sync app, you are no longer in charge of what images are uploaded to Facebook,’ says Tony Walker.. ‘That does not mean anyone apart from yourself and Facebook’s servers will be able to access them, but there’s clearly a reduction in your level of control.’
‘I’m urging my customers not to enable the app at all, to ensure their privacy is as protected as possible,’ explains Tony Walker, provider of IT support services in Bolton. ‘As yet we don’t know how Facebook wishes to use the metadata gathered from your Photo Sync album, and previous actions by Facebook that have seen users’ privacy settings change overnight indicates that there’s a level of risk here too.’
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