By Damien Gayle | Daily Mail
Facebook has been accused of a massive ‘data grab’ after encouraging users to allow it to automatically synchronise photos from their mobile devices to the social networks servers.
The social network from Friday began asking users of its mobile apps to activate its new Photo Sync, which will automatically upload each picture to a private album.
Whether or not users decide share the photos on their public newsfeed, Facebook itself will still have access.
That means it will be able to mine those files for their metadata, including the location where the photo was taken, as well as use its facial recognition technology to spot those pictured.
As a result, over time, Facebook will be able to build up a comprehensive database of where users have been, and with whom, from information they automatically give to the company.
Emma Carr, deputy director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This provides a stark warning about the loss of control experienced once you have installed an application to your mobile phone.
‘Privacy is clearly at the very back of the Facebook’s mind when creating an application that enables this kind of uploading of photographs to be easier when it, in fact, it should be made more difficult.’ The Photo Sync feature, which was launched on Friday with no public announcement from Facebook, is being promoted by a banner at the top of the news feed of its mobile applications.
Once activated it allows the most recent pictures taken on users’ smart phones to be background uploaded straight to a private album on Facebook’s servers, where they will sit pending approval for publication.
A Q&A on Facebook’s help pages stresses that the album remains private, but experts say the social network will benefit from swathes of picture metadata that will enable it to find out unprecedented details about users’ lives.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Photo Sync is set to provide his company with an avalanche of data it could use to build detailed pictures of users’ lives