Earlier this year, I made the difficult decision to shut down Social Photo Download (https://socialphotodownload.com), a web application that allowed Facebook users to download photographs that they or their Facebook friends had uploaded to the social network.
To honor the seven and a half years I worked on its various incarnations, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize its entire history in one place. If you are reading this because you wanted to use the website to download photos from Facebook, you might want to skip to the end.
I started working on Social Photo Download after one of my friends from college lost data when her MacBook's hard drive failed catastrophically. She knew that all of her photographs were available on Facebook, but had no way to transfer them back to her computer.
Since Facebook had just released the first version of a REST-based API, I realized that I could write an application that would automatically download all of her uploaded photos from Facebook back to her computer. In order to support both OS X and Windows, I wrote it as a cross-platform desktop application.
After tons of support requests from people running old versions of Windows and/or ancient versions of the software, I rewrote it as a web application. While this rewrite avoided some of the bugs that had plagued the desktop application, it introduced a couple of new issues.
Having never successfully monetized the application, it became increasingly difficult to manage the large number of support requests, much less to find time to fix bugs and add new features. As a result, the site has basically been abandoned for more than a year.
Facebook recently removed access to version 1.0 of their Graph API, which Social Photo Download used. Much of the site's functionality is broken with Graph API 2.0 and cannot be fixed, due to new restrictions on the data that Facebook sends to applications like Social Photo Download.
It is clear that it is time for Social Photo Download to shut down. All user data from the application (including names, email addresses, Facebook user IDs, and downloaded images) will be deleted by May 15.