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Is It Safe to Store Photos on Facebook?

Facebook has become the default place for a lot of people to store their photos. It enables them to share their holiday snaps or family gatherings with everyone on their friends list. Photo albums used to mean books where you turned the page, but now it’s just clicking left and right through on-screen images.
Whether or not you’re a fan of putting photos on Facebook, perhaps the more important discussion is if it’s actually safe to do so. You wouldn’t hand that physical photo album off to a business, so it is any different when you upload them to Facebook? What rights do you keep over your photos and is there a way to increase your privacy? This article will explore these issues and offer advice regarding storing photos on Facebook.
First of all, let’s take a look at upping your privacy from the average user. If you don’t fiddle with your privacy settings, then you might not be aware that all your photos could be available to everyone. By “everyone” that means even those who aren’t on your friends list.
To edit your privacy settings, login to Facebook, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and then select ‘Privacy Settings’. From here, suitable options that you need to change are who sees tag suggestions, who can see things on your timeline and you can also review all tags before they’re approved if you wish.
Next, go to your photo albums on Facebook and next to each album there will be an icon you can click to change the album’s audience. A good setting is just to have ‘Your friends’, but you can change it to specific people or just yourself if needs be.
Bear in mind that even though you’re limiting people viewing photos through Facebook, if someone is given the direct URL to the photo file then there’s nothing to stop them seeing it.
If you’re uploading photos from your phone, then you might not be aware if you’re photos are being geotagged. If this option is enabled, then within the metadata of each picture will be coordinates of where it was taken. If you’re uploading photos from home then it could be used to track where you live. If you want to turn off geotagging on an iPhone, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘General’, then ‘Location Services’ and then select ‘Off’ for the camera. On Android, open up the camera app, select ‘Settings’ and then ensure the geotagging option is ‘Off’.
As per Facebook’s Terms of Service, when you upload your photos to their site you lose ownership of them. Facebook have the right to do with your photo as you wish, which is a little bit worrying. If you’re a professional photographer selling prints, for example, then you don’t want to be uploading scans to Facebook because it grants them legal ownership. Whether or not they’ll act upon that is different, however.
Also, when you remove a photo from the site it isn’t removed from the Facebook servers. They keep a copy of it, which is a bit unsettling. Every photo you’ve put on Facebook is, essentially, in their hands forever. Just be careful what you upload.


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