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Why Instagram Photos Often Look Terrible When Shared on Facebook

Tourism Australia have been doing a great job promoting this fine country to the world through their Facebook page. Part of those promotional efforts include a regular feature in which they showcase photos taken by ordinary folks. They put these photos in an album called ‘Favourite Fan Photos’ and a percentage of their 8million page likers get to see them. The only problem is this – the photos usually look awful.

Now this is no reflection on the quality of the original photograph or indeed on the abilities (or otherwise) of the photographers that took them. This is entirely down to the fact that 90% of the photos Australia.com share are simply copied from Instagram and re-uploaded to Facebook. The photos suffer the same degradation in quality as when you photocopy a copy. The end result is horrible, grainy images which, to be honest, are an insult to the people that took them. Let’s look at a couple of examples, shared today by Australia.com.

Here’s the original image on Instagram:

And here’s the horribly granulated version Australia.com shared:

Pretty grim, right? 

The issue here is that Instagram is designed for mobile screens and therefore many of the effects of the filters people commonly use, along with the massive compression used by Instagram are obscured by that tiny screen size. Transplant those images to Facebook badly and you end up with something that looks more like an impressionist ‘dot’ painting than a photograph.

Over at Love Great Britain’s homepage they simply embed the Instagram post directly in the page and it looks a lot better because it hasn’t been compressed multiple times:

Much better – note the lack of pixelisation. Still not as good as the same post viewed on Instagram itself, but definitely a great improvement. 

Now I’m pretty sure that many people won’t be bothered about the degradation in image quality. However many of the images shared by Facebook pages such as Tourism Australia are taken by photographers and I can guarantee you that they care. 

It used to be the case that photographs shared on Facebook were usually uploaded directly to that page but these days organisations like Tourism Australia know that Instagram is where the action is at. The massive growth in travel vlogging and associated Instagram ‘influencers’ on the platform has lead organisations like Tourism Australia to focus almost entirely on that platform to the near-exclusion of everything else. Also, since Tourism Australia do not link directly to the Instagram photographer’s account and merely name-check them in the description, there is absolutely zero benefit to a photographer or Instagrammer of having your images shared in this way. 

These organisations need to utilise better ways to share images that a) do not horrendously degrade the source material and b) properly namecheck the photographers whose work they are using for free.

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