Facebook, Google Photos to Allow Data Sharing

John Lister's picture

Facebook is to let users automatically copy their uploaded photos and videos to Google's photo service. It's part of a "data portability" project between tech giants, but is also a demonstration of how slowly the project itself is moving.

The tool will mean users can transfer files without needing to download them to their devices, then re-upload them to another service. In particular, Google's Photos service makes it easy to access photos on multiple devices. It also has automatic tagging so that users can quickly find all their photos of a particular location or activity, for example.

It's part of the Data Transfer Project, which involves Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter working together to make it easier to move data between services. The project is partly driven by consumer demand, but also by Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which makes "data portability" a legal requirement.

Security a Potential Headache

That project began last year. Facebook says the delay is down to three big challenges in developing the sharing - the first of which is the need to write and share code to make sure the various services communicate with each other correctly. (Source: fb.com)

The second challenge is security. For example, the transfers must be secure so that anyone moving data from a Facebook account to a Google account really is the authentic user in both cases. The companies want to limit the access that the process gives to each account, reducing the risk that such tools could be exploited to "daisy-chain" access by hackers.

Tool Goes Worldwide Next Year

Finally, the companies have been working on the logistics of the transfer itself. In this case, it's to make sure to avoid a "feedback loop" where the receiving service can't handle all of the inbound data at once and instead tries to resend data to the service to try again, worsening the problem.

The photo transfer will be tested in Ireland this year before rolling out worldwide in 2020. As well as being Facebook's European base, Ireland is a popular test bed for the company. That because it has a large enough user base to make the testing worthwhile, but not so big as to be unmanageable. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

What's Your Opinion?

Would you use this tool? Does Facebook's explanation of the delay make sense or is it dragging its feet? Should it be easier to move data between major sites and services?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)