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Don't Use Social Media Sites for Photo or Video Backup

Last year, MySpace lost all of its original user’s music, photos, and videos, stored on the service. Though the platform had gone through a rebrand, the content that people had uploaded in the prior decade was still accessible.

However, over a course of messages posted on the website, MySpace revealed that a faulty server migration project had meant that they’d lost everything. Whether this was accidental or a case of the company wiping the slate clean is unknown. In its prime, MySpace had more than 75 million users, many of those using it as the only place to store their content. That’s hundreds of terabytes of data lost permanently.

Singers like Kate Nash and bands like Arctic Monkeys used the platform as a launching pad for bigger things. However, many artists will have uploaded music to MySpace as a hobby, perhaps a way to share with friends and family. If they don’t have copies of those files, they’ve lost them forever.

“This event demonstrates the popular misconception that your data is safe with any cloud vendor,” said James R. Slaby at the time, director of cyber protection at Acronis. “Individuals and companies should be clear that their data is their own responsibility and that only they will be able to take care of data that is important to them.”

MySpace is far from the only social network that people entrust their data to. Our history is being outsourced to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. It’s by no means cheap for social media companies to host all our data for free, but they do it for the intelligence benefit that holding all that data brings.

However, they have no obligation to store that content until the end of time. Or until they go out of business, whichever comes first. If one day they decide they don’t want to host the data, they can wipe their servers and go on their merry way. There’s no contractual obligation for them to keep that data.

The Middle Ages are known as the Dark Ages because of the demographic, cultural, and economic deterioration in Western Europe. The lack of historical records means that we don’t know much detail about what happened in that time period. It’s very possible that we could enter a digital dark age. We’re already finding that obsolete file formats and storage devices are causing older digital files to be unreadable.

There’s a similar risk that the content we generate every day and upload to social media networks could be lost too. If you upload directly to those services, and don’t have a secondary copy of the data, then you’re putting too much responsibility into the hands of those companies.

We need to rethink how we archive our histories. Photos and videos of the time will tell so much to future historians. We need to be careful not to lose this and maintain our own backups so that future generations can look back on the records of the internet.


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