The power of the social graph

There are many things I hate about Facebook’s Photos application:

  • It doesn’t support high resolution photos.
  • I get a Java cache error every time I try to upload pictures.
  • You can’t search the pictures.
  • It doesn’t use commonly provided EXIF data, including timestamps and orientation.
  • It won’t read tags and captions embedded in pictures.
  • I can’t see my pictures on a map.

Flickr doesn’t have any of these problems. But flickr lacks one thing that makes Facebook’s Photos truly compelling: the social graph. People tagging is the basis of an incredibly powerful distribution and recirculation engine.

I uploaded the same set of pictures to flickr and to Facebook last night.

When I added the people tags, each of the people I tagged received a message that there was a new picture of them online. Who wouldn’t want to log in to see what kind of potentially embarrassing pictures might be up there? When they logged in to view the pictures, some of them also left comments. Which triggered a message to me saying people left comments. And then I logged in to see the comments.

Comments and tagging in Facebook Photos

I didn’t know all of the people in my pictures. One of my friends tagged a few other people in my pictures. Which triggered notifications to those people.

You can also tag people who aren’t on Facebook by providing their email address. Yet another way for Facebook to grow their user base.

People who weren’t in the pictures — my friends or friends of people I tagged — saw messages in their news feeds, furthering the distribution.

In less than 24 hours, the pictures received four comments. The same pictures on flickr didn’t receive any.

More on: Facebook, flickr

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is an analyst focused on the intersection of local, social and mobile. He is a principal analyst at reDesign mobile. Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He blogs at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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