Would you like to set expiration dates on Facebook photos?

Pictures are ways of letting people know what any social networking site user is up to these days. Whether he went scuba diving, rock climbing or even when he’s out on a party with friends, uploading these pictures updates online friends to the ins and outs of life beyond the cyber world.

Pictures certainly generate a lot of interest amongst users. Some could browse for hours just checking out pictures posted by friends. A staggering 750 million photos were uploaded to the site during New Year weekend of 2011—proof that the record breaking 500 million members in 2010 are actively connecting with friends through picture uploads.

Ins and Outs of Photo Sharing

Social networking sites have always encouraged their users to upload pictures but it was through Facebook that a lot of programs evolved to make photo sharing easier than before. Photo uploading through Facebook comes with a choice on the resolutions a user would wish to use. Photo downloading options were featured, also with a choice on resolutions for better printing options. Photo tagging becomes easier with the new face recognition technology added to better connect friends with each other. Bulk tagging was introduced to cut the time needed to tag friends. Just drag the pictures and a user can arrange its order.

But there comes times when a user might have uploaded pictures which would incriminate him to things he would not want anybody to know. Case in point, what if a future job application gets jeopardized because of a slightly ‘naughty’ picture posted a few years ago? Tagging pictures also opens up this problem. Want one example? What if a hard night of partying that a girlfriend did not know about suddenly got tagged to her boyfriend’s profile long after he has forgotten about it? ‘Freak accidents’ such as these certainly gets a lot of users in hot water.

Expiration Solutions

michael_backesProf Dr. Michael Backes, the founder of X-Pire and chair for Information Security and Cryptography at Saarland University offers a solution these problems. A software allowing users to set the time period on which their photos will be displayed on their social networking accounts such as MySpace or Facebook is set to be released by the third week of January 2011.

X-Pire assigns a picture that went through the program an encryption or electronic key that will be valid for a limited duration only, and not go into archive where it can still be viewed a few years after when the user would want more privacy on his activities.

After the period of time assigned to the pictures, it will automatically be erased from the web. But X-Pire warns that if another user downloads or copies the picture and decides to repost it then it will already be out of their hands.

The Russian Firm targets teenagers 12 to 18 years old whom may be thought of as still careless when it comes to sharing information and pictures online; the parents who would want to protect their children’s interest; and internet users aged 18 to 55 years old who would want to protect their privacy for more specific reasons such as profession and relationships.

This option comes with a price, though and will cost $2.61 or 2 euros per month.

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