Why 200 Million Facebook Users May Quit

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Facebook has seen a significant upsurge in traffic during the Coronavirus pandemic, but for any US or Canadian citizens users toying with the idea of deactivating their accounts, Facebook just made it a whole lot easier to pack up and leave.

After a successful trial in Ireland, Facebook has now opened up its Data Transfer Project (DTP) tool to its 200 million-plus users in the USA and Canada. The DTP tool allows users to transfer all of the photos and videos they have currently stored on Facebook directly to Google Photos. This means there’s no longer any need to download individual items one-by-one in order to save them.

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With these treasured memories safely archived away from the company’s servers, Facebook loses one big reason users might need to hang on to their accounts. And even if you want to remain on Facebook, it’s always good to have a backup of your data.

Facebook’s dedicated page helps you move photos and videos to Google Photos.
Facebook has a dedicated page designed to help you[+]
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How to back up your Facebook photos and videos to Google Photos

It’s easy to get started. just head to the DTP page and choose a destination for the transfer (currently, only Google Photos is supported). In the pop-up window that follows, authorize Facebook’s access to your Google Photos. Then, select either Photos or Videos (for some reason you can’t transfer both at once) and then click ‘Next’. That’s all there is to it.

Note that you may receive a security alert from Google shortly after verification. This is normal.

The process will then run automatically in the background and you can come back to the DTP page at any time to check on its progress. If you decide not to send your information to Google Photos, you can still download your data directly from your browser by clicking on “Download You Information” as before.

After linking your Facebook account to Google Photos, you can choose to transfer either Photos or Videos.
After linking your Facebook account to Google [+]
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The process is still flawed

Unfortunately, the DTP system is far from perfect and suffers from problems in both execution and end result.

When I tried the DTP service with my own Facebook videos, all seemed well initially. There was a delay of a few minutes, and once it started I could watch my transferred videos begin to appear in Google Photos as if by magic.

But, this success was short-lived. After a few minutes, the transfer stopped abruptly and Facebook provided no troubleshooting information other than showing the status as ‘Failed.’ Attempting to restart the transfer appeared to pick up from where it left off, but even then, those videos that did make it over to Google Photos lacked most of the important associated metadata Facebook stored with them. I wasn’t expecting the original comments and likes to be preserved, but it had also discarded more important details, such as the date and location of capture.

This 360-degree video emerged as a 3-by-2 grid [+]
PAUL MONCKTON
All of the transferred videos were just dumped into Google Photos with today’s date, leaving me to organize them into albums myself and re-set the date information manually. Furthermore, some types of media, such as 360-degree videos, can become corrupted by the transfer. These end up chopped into a 3-by-2 grid of different camera viewpoints in place of the original panorama.

All of this means that, while the service is a good way of preserving access to your photos and video, it’s not a full replacement for the way they are stored on Facebook. That said, if you have been keen to leave Facebook, this still removes a major barrier to doing so.

Note: While Facebook only officially supports its DTP tool in Canada and the US, I found the service worked in the UK. So expect it to roll out to other countries soon.

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Paul Monckton
I’ve been working as a technology journalist since the early nineties. My passion is photography and the ever-changing hardware and software that we use to create it, be…Read More

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