Facebook’s Photo Sync and Your Privacy: What You Need to Know

Facebook has launched a new feature, Photo Sync, on its mobile app that promises to streamline the picture uploading experience for users. However, the feature can also act as a gold mine of geo-location data that Facebook can use to further refine targeted advertisements.

Facebook quietly began to roll Photo Sync out to its mobile users on November 30. The Photo Sync banner, which reads “New! Photo Sharing Made Easier – Sync Your Mobile Photos to Facebook,” prompts users to sign on with service with a button that says “get started.” However, it is a decidedly more serious commitment than that.

Once users opt-in to the feature, Photo Sync will automatically upload every picture taken on the mobile device, with no work on the users’ part, to a private cloud storage area. Once there, users can select which pictures to publish and they will then appear to that user’s friends. Some users will doubtlessly be concerned when they see pictures of themselves popping up in a Facebook window that they don’t ever intend to share, but Photo Sync stores them privately until the user selects to share them. A word of caution here – a data breach, software vulnerability or losing your account to a Facebook hacker could potentially expose your private photos in the future, so keep that in mind.

Facebook has long used the data accompanying users’ photos to target advertising, so it makes sense that they would want to make this process as ‘frictionless’ as possible.

For the privacy conscious individual, thing long and hard before participating in this convenient, yet intrusive Facebook feature. Our friends at Sophos has put together a list of nine things you should know about Photo Sync.

On a side note, if you haven’t turned off the geo-location data that can appear with pictures taken by your Smartphone, now would be a  good time to do so. There are third-party apps and tools available that can automate this process. If you want to do it manually, then check out this article from wikiHow.com.

Recommended Resources

BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.

PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.

Action Alert | Free Parental Control offers a 100% free Internet safety solution designed for parents. There is also a Maximum Protection option for parents that need a more advanced set of tools.

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