Monday 9 December 2019

Facebook exclusively testing major new photo and video feature in Ireland

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Facebook is testing a major new feature exclusively in Ireland: the ability to securely transfer photos and videos out of Facebook to other popular services.

In particular, it is testing it with Google Photos.

This is a big deal for people who have spent the last decade uploading family photos or selfies to Facebook. In some cases, lost phones or broken laptops mean that Facebook is the only place put photos live at the moment. As time passes, these photos often acquire more poignancy.

But many of us don’t have the storage on a phone or the time manually download each photo, one by one, to a laptop.

Google Photos is free with unlimited storage. It’s a very useful online resource for backing up photos and videos.

This tool will be built directly into the Facebook app. It will be available in Facebook settings within ‘Your Facebook’ Information, the same place you can currently download your information.

Facebook says that all data transferred will be encrypted and people will be asked to enter their password before a transfer is initiated.

It’s being tested exclusively in Ireland from today.

“That’s the principle of data portability, which gives people control and choice while also encouraging innovation,” said Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy

 “At Facebook, we believe that if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another.”

It’s also a big step in what Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to do when he visited Dublin earlier this year. Writing in the Sunday Independent and in Independent.ie, Zuckerberg said that one of the company’s aims was to make ‘data portability’ more realistic between Facebook platforms and other services.

“The photo transfer tool we’re launching today is based on code developed through our participation in the open-source Data Transfer Project and will first be available to people in Ireland, with worldwide availability planned for the first half of 2020,” said Satterfield.

One possible reason that Facebook is doing this is to chip away at arguments that it is becoming a utility with too much power and control over major areas of our lives. By showing that it’s possible to transfer important personal data to rival services, Facebook is making the case that it is not a walled garden. Thus, it hopes, regulators might think twice when it comes to notions such as breaking the company up for being too monolithic.

“We’ve learned from our conversations with policymakers, regulators, academics, advocates and others that real-world use cases and tools will help drive policy discussions forward,” said Satterfield. ”That’s why we’re developing new products that take into account the feedback we’ve received and will help drive data portability policies forward by giving people and experts a tool to assess.

“We want to build practical portability solutions people can trust and use effectively. To foster that trust, people and online services need clear rules about what kinds of data should be portable and who is responsible for protecting that data as it moves to different services. We know we can’t do this alone, so we encourage other companies to join the Data Transfer Project to expand options for people and continue to push data portability innovation forward.”

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