Facebook Seeks to Capture More Mobile Photos

With a Billion Birthdays on File, Facebook Adds a Gift Store
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Facebook's push for more frictionless sharing is now reaching into the depths of photo albums past and future.

The social network is promoting Photo Sync, a new feature for its mobile app that allows people to automatically upload every picture taken with their mobile phones to a private Facebook album. They then choose which photos to share on Facebook, but the automatic upload makes that process much faster and easier.

Turning Facebook into a catch-all photo repository also gives the company a new glut of information about its users from the geo-location data attached to the photos. The company can now tell where you are, when, and with whom, even if you don't make the images public.

And that information is becoming increasingly valuable to Facebook as it seeks to fine-tune its ad targeting

So you could post just one or two photos from your tropical island vacation to Facebook, but all the other images you snapped – of your food, your spouse, and the swimsuit you tried on at the local surf shop – creates a log of your interests and habits and social connections that Facebook can eventually mine to deliver more targeted ads to you and your friends.

More simply, Facebook is betting on a smoother, quicker uploading process to make people more likely to share more photos, more often. That traffic and engagement creates more opportunities to deliver ads. Facebook users already upload about 300m photos every day.

Facebook quietly began rolling out Photo Sync in its most recent Android and iPhone apps on Friday, after a testing period that began in August. Once users opt-in, they can upload all of the photos currently stored in their mobile phone, and all photos they take henceforth, up to 2GB worth at any time.