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World Backup Day special: The Facebook Conditioning Effect

Nat Maple, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Global Consumer Business, Acronis | March 28, 2014
What social networking has (and hasn’t) taught us about protecting our data

Nat Maple

Nat Maple, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Global Consumer Business, Acronis

Here are a few astounding social photo statistics: There have been more than 250 billion photos uploaded to Facebook, with an average 350 million photo uploads every day. The average user has 217 photos uploaded to the site. And that's just Facebook; Zuckerberg's $1 billion acquisition, Instagram, has a ridiculous 55 million snapshots posted to its app per day (for those doing the math, that's more than 600 filtered shots per second).

So what do all these uploads say about us, besides the fact that we all love a good selfie? Recent survey results revealed that when given the choice, 74 percent of respondents would save their personal photos before the device (phone, laptop, or tablet) on which they're stored. In fact, of all the files users keep on their devices, consumers overwhelmingly said that their personal photos are the most important.

Photo albums are things of the past; new pictures head straight to the dust-free pages of social networks. But something much more profound and far-reaching is taking place: when we share photos on cloud-based social media, we're actually creating a second copy of that information - a backup copy of our data - even if that's not the main intent.

We're calling this the "Facebook Conditioning Effect" - the idea that social media is making the act of backing up more a part of our consciousness. The issue is that the image we see on social media is often a low quality copy of our pictures, even if we're unaware of this fact. And, the ironic part is that even though our selfies and food photos are stored in a second location, many of our much more important documents are left vulnerable. The good news is that the action of uploading and saving a copy of those digital files to an additional location is beginning to condition us to back up and protect more of our data overall.

Why shouldn't we be thinking this way? With recent advances in cloud technologies and user experiences, backing up data is now as simple as pressing "upload." That's how it works with Instagram, right?

But so much of our personal information -- the really personal stuff -- isn't backed up properly, safely and securely. Why? Why isn't all of our data, not just our personal photos, stored safe and sound somewhere out in the digital universe? What's stopping this effect from making the jump from a social trend to a healthy all-encompassing data habit, where everything is backed up and protected?


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