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Facebook Photo Viewer launches, ignores users

New viewer brings a bit of photogenic elegance to Facebook, but people are still pissed

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
February 11, 2011
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/16f3

Facebook announced back in early October 2010 that sweeping upgrades would be coming to one of the most visited sections of the site: Photos. Now it looks like those upgrades are finally ready for the world to see:
 
We are rolling out the new Photo Viewer to everyone over the course of the next few weeks. Now, you can browse more photos faster without having to lose your place in Facebook.
 
The new Photo Viewer, instead of navigating you to a separate page, simply enlarges the photo in a pop-up interface right on the page you’re already on. Within the new interface, thick black bars frame the photo, a design choice intended to make the colors look more lush. Beneath the frame and photo, the familiar comment section and meta links appear.

 
Once the new viewer has launched site-wide, users are sure to appreciate another upgrade also introduced by Facebook months ago: high-resolution photos.
 
And yet, as exciting as it will surely be for many users to have a big new beautiful viewer to sift through friends’ photos, every Facebook update comes with its own controversy.
 
Along with the site’s new support for high-resolution photos comes a new feature that allows users to download those very same photos in high resolution. It might be a bit hard to see, but in the lower left-hand side of the screenshot above is a link that reads “Download in High Resolution.” 
 
It’s a cool bonus, but it has already caused controversy because there’s no way to disable the feature. The only way around it is to choose to upload the standard, lower-resolution versions--an annoying trade-off.
 
While most users probably won’t have any problem with friends and family downloading their photos in high-resolution, photographers who actually make a living from their work are in an uproar. Here is a sample of complaints from the Facebook announcement page:


 
Maybe these complaining users were a bit too ambitious in bringing their photo collections over to Facebook, when there are still plenty of photographer-friendly sites. On Flickr, for example, users specify exactly what permissions they grant other users, meaning the retain all copyright control. If a user says they don’t want their photos downloadable, Flickr makes it impossible to download those photos. (Well, not impossible; you can always take a screenshot.)
 
But, the point is, Facebook isn’t even trying to give users control over this. How long can they continue sidestepping issues like this so often?

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