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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Privacy for Picasa Web Albums

As opposed to what Google seems to suggest in the Picasa Albums interface, there is no such thing as a private album. For example, I found Larry Page’s Picasa homepage. It announces:

This user has no Public Albums.

But that’s wrong. You can just try appending folder names, e.g. the default name UntitledAlbum, and you find one of his albums. And indeed, Google itself titles the page with “Larry’s Public Gallery >> Untitled Album.” (If that’s not public, what is?)

What’s happening here is that Google divides albums into “public” and “unlisted."* But “unlisted” just means that there will be no link from the Picasa frontpage. It doesn’t mean that users won’t be able to see the album; curious people may simply append folder names like “private”, “travel” or “girlfriend” to find unlisted albums.

I think Google does their users a favor by either allowing albums to become really private, or by rewording their interface to make it more clear that “unlisted” is not the opposite of “public.” To all those using Picasa Web Albums for something else than testing purposes already (yes, it’s a “Test" release), be warned to not upload any kind of private photos at this time.

*The options at this time read “ Public - Display this album in my public gallery” vs “Unlisted - Do not display this album in my public gallery.”

[Thanks Carlos Duarte.]

Update: Larry Page’s album as linked above has been emptied by now. [Via Valleywag.]


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