When I read about a little app or set of scripts called UnityPhotos that could easily migrate Flickr photo sets to Facebook I was intrigued. Since Timeline rolled out I have wanted to flesh out my Timeline with older photo albums and this seemed like a great way to do it. Of course few experiments like this ever work out for me and I’ve thought about adopting the slogan “I do stupid things so you don’t have to” because of the disasters I subject myself to. My UnityPhotos experiment is no exception.
While I was a huge Facebook sceptic in the past, Facebook really seems to be taking users’ data protection seriously. If I was ever anti-Facebook (at some point I was), I am a convert and I have been using Facebook a lot lately. Google+ still appeals to me and it could well become a force to be reckoned with on the social Web in the years to come but, for now, Facebook is the dominant service on the social Web and it keeps getting better for me. I use Facebook Lists a lot to share selectively and while the current functionality mirrors what Google+ launched with, the people I connect to for personal stuff are on Facebook, not Google+. That makes Facebook the place to go to share with friends and family as well as the people who subscribe to my public updates (I have far fewer subscribers than Google+ and Twitter followers so I am interested to see if this changes much going forward).
I consolidated my blogs into this one with the intention of simplifying my blogs but until there is a way to share selectively and effectively with limited groups of people then this blog is far more useful for public updates and posts. My UnityPhotos experience has reminded me about the importance of keeping more control over my content through this blog. When it comes to limited sharing (primarily with friends and family), Facebook remains the place to do that sharing.
Anyway, I authorised Flickr and Facebook to give UnityPhotos access to my respective albums after I read this post on The Next Web which gave the service some credibility and one of the developers’ comments about how UnityPhotos would plug imported photos into the Timeline (by this I understood in the correct date order). UnityPhotos started copying photos across pretty quickly but stalled on half a dozen sets. I should point out that while the sensible thing would have been to try this with a couple sets first, I did everything.
When it was clear that UnityPhotos was stalled on a couple sets after a few hours I tried to edit the dates of the imported albums on Facebook only to find that Facebook now wouldn’t allow me to change the imported albums’ attributes. I revoked UnityPhotos’ access to my Facebook profile and that didn’t fix the issue. I decided to start deleting the many imported sets and even once that was done, I noticed that I had lost all my Timeline updates prior to the import (yesterday) and after 30 November. Basically, the month of December with all my updates is gone.
I checked my photo albums which I uploaded manually before trying UnityPhotos and they were still there. My Timeline was just wiped clean for most of December. I don’t know for sure whether UnityPhotos broke my Timeline but the timing suggests it did. I have probably lost that profile and its a lesson learned about these services we rely on so much. Whether it be a bad app, a bug or a hack, our data is not guaranteed to be where we left it when we return next time. If anything this whole thing has persuaded me to continue posting to multiple locations (for example, limited share posts to Facebook and Google+; public posts on this blog which will republish to Twitter and Facebook along with a manual share on Google+ and photos to Facebook and Picasa at least). This sort of approach makes for a high level of duplication across multiple services but I wouldn’t want to put all my updates on one platform and risk losing everything in one go the next time I do something stupid.
In the meantime I have mailed Goyaka Labs (the developers behind UnityPhotos) and Facebook. Hopefully there is a fix for my lost December but I’m not betting on it.
Update: I received two emails from Allagappan Muthuraman, one of Goyaka Labs’ founders, yesterday evening letting me know the following:
Apologies for the inconvenience caused. We are also facing this issue and we have reported to facebook. Since it is holiday season, there is no one responding.
We have temporarily disabled adding of photos to timeline. (It just adds photos). We will let you know as soon as we find a fix for this.
We initially thought it was because of UnifyPhotos, but it seems to be that lot of other people are also missing data from timeline.
Do follow the community issue here for more info – https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=1888839
In the meantime, my Timeline seems to be borked so hopefully a fix will be in the works soon. My status updates are not reflecting in my Timeline even though they do appear in my newsfeed. Hopefully that means my December posts are not gone, just not visible.