Monday, October 4, 2010

facebooks new photo sharing fails Photo Metadata testing

I heard on CNET's "Buzz out Loud" Podcast last week that Facebook had updated their photo sharing to accommodate "High Resolution" images.

You can now upload images up to 2048 pixels on the long dimension. Note that I said "upload" -- not view. Your facebook friends (or other viewers if the album is made public) can download these larger sized images, but the online viewing is limited to a version that has been resized to a maximum of 720 pixels wide. I had hoped that this integration of Divvyshot's technology might mean that facebook would finally stop their "stripping" of embedded photo metadata, but that apparently is something that facebook users will still have to lobby for if they expect to see a change.

I've made a facebook album page available for public viewing using the CV Social Media Testbed image, which was fully loaded with embedded metadata. The actual image (now sans metadata thanks to facebook) can be viewed at this link.

As noted in the latest report on the "Survey regarding the Preservation of Photo Metadata by Social Media Websites" no metadata from the image is exposed on the facebook site. While there is an option on your facebook page to "Tag This Photo" the system does not pick up any of the embedded metadata tags such as those in the keyword field, like both flickr and Picasa Web Albums can do.

In addition, while the images that can be viewed online are now up to 720 pixels on the long dimension, they are still being "stripped" of all IPTC, XMP, and Exif metadata (ICC profile information is retained). The option for others to download a 'high resolution" version, only prompts a download (you can not view the image online). I downloaded this larger version and tested as well. The only difference between the "high resolution" version and the online 720 pixel wide version, was the resolution -- both are stripped of any information beyond the pixels and the ICC profile. Since all descriptive photo metadata is missing, this would mean that even the "original" is being modified before it is stored on their system -- and potential orphan works are being created, each time you upload an image to facebook.

For those that are concerned about retaining their intellectual properly, facebook receives a failing grade in our book. For now, our recommendation is to stick with Flickr or Picasa Web Gallery.