Orkut, Facebook as Photo Sharing Sites – Without an Image search app? Why?

Orkut and Facebook are the most popular social networking sites in India. Photo sharing has been a prime feature for both these socio-nets. Often we find friends uploading albums with photos from their recent trip/vacation to some place or some events in their life. These updates are actively tracked among the friends’ network and commenting and tagging of photos is quite common.

Given this, I am surprised that neither of these two socio-nets has a feature of image search among the friends’ network and public photos on these sites.

Often when we are planning a trip or vacation to some place, we try to search online about the destination. I would always love to know if any of my connection on either Orkut or Facebook has been there and has put up any photos of the place. A friend’s word would always carry more credibility than the most authentic commercial profile page/wiki for the place. In fact, a few days back Orkut themselves had run an online ad campaign wherein they showed one animated user talking about the great trip/vacation he had and other asking him to upload photos from this trip/vacation on Orkut. So I am quite sure that photo sharing (especially of specific locations) is a big traffic booster for Orkut and Facebook.

However right now there are no means to find out if there are any photos of interest available on these socio-nets to which I have access. I have to turn to proper photo-sharing networks like Flickr.com and try my luck with photos from some stranger with whom I might never be able to connect (Yahoo! sucks in all its social network efforts L). This one application can overnight convert Orkut and Facebook into a serious competitor for all photo-sharing sites like Flickr.

This image search facility should allow me to search for photos to which I have access on these socio-nets, i.e. photos from my friends or photos which have been made public purposefully by their owners. This search can be based on tags/album name or whichever image search technology is best suited. I am sure Google with its best search technologies will not have much of an issue in developing an image search for Orkut. Besides, Google maps/Google world should be integrated with Orkut and geo-tagging of photos should be allowed. It will only make image search more accurate when searching for photos of a specific location.

While privacy has always been a key concern for these socio-nets, and more so with photos, this search facility needs to be very particular in searching only among those photos to which the searcher’s account have access to. Facebook has the famous privacy bug still unresolved wherein if any of your friend comments on a photo from a Facebook user who is not your friend, you still get to see the entire album of photos of that person. Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor’s private photos from Facebook had leaked out once because of this bug, however still it remains unresolved. Wonder if it is now an intentional bug that Facebook wants to be alive to drive more page-views.

As a plain user of these socio-nets, I sense a need here for an application which can provide this image search facility. I hope some Product Manager from either Google of Facebook listens to this and evaluates the opportunity. But before that, what do you guys think of it? Is there an opportunity for building such an application for Orkut or Facebook?

About the author:

Vibhushan is an entrepreneur and has co-founded an Enterprise Marketing Management products company – MQuotient. Prior to this, he was Product Manager for Search at Yahoo! India. He holds a MBA degree from IIM Ahmedabad. His online coordinates are: vibhushan.waghmare@gmail.com, Linkedin, Twitter (@vibhushan), Blog.

Also see: Orkut vs. Facebook in India : Winner takes it all?

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