Facebook addresses antitrust concerns with new tool that lets you transfer photos to Google

Key Points
  • Facebook announces a new tool that will let users transfer their photos and videos to other services, including Google Photos.
  • The tool's introduction follows a proposed law that would require large platforms like Facebook to make their users' data easily transferable.
  • Facebook faces several probes into its competitive practices.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to meetings for technology regulations and social media issues in Washington on September 19, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook on Monday announced a new feature that lets users take their photos and videos to other services, including Google Photos.

The launch follows proposed legislation that would require large platforms like Facebook to let their users easily move their data to other services. Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced the bill, known as the ACCESS Act, in October.

Facebook has previously written about the importance of letting users transfer their data to other platforms, a feature known as data portability. The company released a white paper on the topic in September after CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked for regulation guaranteeing data portability in a March op-ed in The Washington Post.

Facebook already lets users download a file containing all their data, but it's not easy to transfer that data to a rival social network. The new tool does all the work for you, at least for photos and videos you want to transfer to Google.

The new feature also comes as Facebook faces multiple investigations into its competitive practices from federal regulators and a large group of state attorneys general. Since anti-monopoly action has traditionally been determined based on harm to consumers, Facebook's introduction of data portability tools could assuage some antitrust concerns by giving users the option to freely and easily leave if they are unhappy with Facebook's services. The company might argue that the feature will make it easier for new competitors to spring up if users can take their Facebook data elsewhere.

The new tool will launch in Ireland and be available worldwide in the first half of 2020, Facebook said in a blog post. Users will be able to transfer their information from settings under "Your Facebook Information," where data downloads are already available. Data transferred through the tool will be encrypted and will require users to reenter their passwords, according to the announcement.

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