(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Think of how many cameras (cell phone or stand-alone) were at the last wedding you attended. There are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. Multiply that by two for both the groom and bride. Now think about how many photo albums of that particular wedding are on social media.
Facebook thought about it. "Hundreds of millions of photos are uploaded onto Facebook each day," said a spokesperson for the social network. As a result, it has announced a shared photo albums feature for its users. "Whether you're at a wedding, birthday party, or fresh off a trip, all your friends will be able to add photos, tag photos and edit just one album."
The collective digital scrapbook isn't a revolutionary idea. Both Yahoo's Flickr and Google's Picasa allows users to contribute to a group photo album from their own user accounts. But Facebook's popularity may bring the shared photo album into the spotlight. The company is testing the waters first by rolling out the feature to a limited group of users. Eventually it will be available to all of Facebook's local and international users.
Though the photo albums are collaborative, someone still needs to be put in charge. The creator of the Facebook shared photo album is designated the album's owner and invites his or her friends to be "contributors" to the album. The contributors can invite other Facebook users into the group, who do not need to be approved by the owner.
While contributors can do whatever they please with their own photos, such as adding location and date information, they cannot do much to other members' photos. Contributors can only delete their own photos, though the owner is given carte blanche and allowed to delete any photo.
Like Facebook's current photo albums, the shared album's privacy settings can be set to meet the needs of the contributors. The owner can make the shared albums public, viewable by friends of the contributors, or for contributors' eyes only. Contributors themselves can't toggle the privacy settings.
While Facebook is well versed in integrating its features with its social network, there is a challenger on the horizon as well. iOS7, the next version of Apple's mobile operating system, will also feature collaborative photo sharing. And if there's anything as user friendly as Facebook, it's the iPhone.
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