Facebook, stop trolling my camera roll

Facebook just rolled out a new feature that causes minor heart attacks.

What the f…
Sorry, but that is the best opening line for this column. And don’t be surprised to see other people gasping for breath when they look at their phones. We’ve probably had the same thing happen to us.

After a sad day, caused by a loss in the family, I opened the Facebook app on my phone. My timeline showed me a Facebook post containing pictures I had taken that very day - personal reminders of grief.

Without asking for my permission, Facebook had decided to create a cheerful photo presentation. “Share your day with friends” it said, or something along those lines. Next to it was a lifesize button with the word “POST” on it.

My heart rate spiked to over 200. For a moment, I was convinced those pictures had somehow already been posted online, for all to see. After recovering from the shock, I noticed the small checkbox that allowed me to delete the post.

A new feature

What’s going on here? In a statement Facebook explained: “This is a new feature. It is not an actual post, it is merely a representation of your camera roll designed to help you easily share your photos. No one can see these pictures until you post them.”

Yet it’s hard to tell if you’re looking at a post that’s already been made or simply at locally stored images, wrapped in the Facebook UI. Especially when you’re staring at very personal photos you don’t want to share. Ever.

I’m not the only one in shock. I read some recent comments on Twitter from fellow Facebook users who, after seeing their personal photos pop up in their timeline without their knowledge, had also had a minor heart attack.


Terms of use

Sharing photos on Facebook is popular - 1,5 billion members share more than 9,5 billion pictures each month, according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook;s founder. The social network aims to make sharing frictionless: this ‘camera roll timely reminder’ feature is its newest attempt.

“What you see is a preview of your photos similar to the one you see when you tap on the “photo” button to upload a photo. Facebook is not accessing your photos in a new way, your photos are simply being shown to you in a new place” the company states. “That doesn’t violate our Terms of Use.”

Twitter has a similar feature, but their app does not make a pre-selection. Google creates an interactive map of your trip - yet is more transparent about wether or not you’re sharing it. On the other hand, who is looking at Google Plus anyway?

Eat my photos

Facebook eats its way through your photos. PhotoMagic for example, checks your camera roll to see if there are any images of your Facebook friends you might want to tag. That feature is not yet available in Europe because the tagging technology is similar to Facebooks Moments app. Facebook refrained from rolling out Moments in Europe. Privacy rules are more stringent here than in the United States especially when it comes to facial recognition.

It’s because of new features like the ‘camera roll timely reminder’ the German Bundeskartellamt suspects Facebook of abusing its dominant market share and infringing data protection rules. “It is difficult for users to understand and assess the scope of the agreement accepted by them”.

For me, this unwanted reminder was reason enough to remove the Facebook app on my phone. If I want to share photos, I’m perfectly capable of choosing them myself. So Facebook, stop trolling my camera roll.


additional translation by Harrison van der Vliet

    • Marc Hijink