Facebook’s next gold mine – its Photo Library?

Apparently, humanity will capture 375 billion photos this year. FaceBook will be the store for 70 billion of these images. Can this vast photo library plausibly provide a future revenue stream for Facebook?

This post How many photos have ever been taken? | 1000memories calculates that 3.5 trillion photos have been taken since commercial cameras were introduced in 1901. The digital revolution has lead to a staggering exponential increase in the number of moments that have been captured in images. Many of these photos end up on FaceBook. At last count, 140 billion. That is an average of 200 photos per user.

Photos taken by year, film and digital

Image via 1000memories.com

The Facebook photo library is already the largest in the world – in comparison, Flickr is home to a minuscule 6 billion images. 6 billion is the number of photos that are uploaded to Facebook in a single month; and this number is sharply rising. As per the FaceBook TOS, Facebook has a worldwide license to use these photos.

you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).

The world's largest photo libraries

Image via 1000memories.com

If these trends hold, Facebook will soon be sitting on a picture gold mine (arguably, it already is). Considering the expected increase in Facebook users to well over a billion, coupled with an exponential increase in number of photos per user, it is not difficult to foresee a time when Facebook will have a photo library of a trillion images. While the outright sale of these photos may be the most obvious way to monetize this content, there may be several other possible uses of this treasure trove of human data. For example, it could be used as a base to create advanced graphical search, in human identification, or as a rich digital documentation of human civilization.

I wonder if the current valuations of Facebook reflect these possibilities?

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