Mapillary joins Facebook

Have you seen that Mapillary is now Facebook-owned: ?
What do you think about this?


You first.

In my opinion a lot of things that are wrong and go wrong on the web are somehow connected to Facebook and it saddens me that they ingest a company that was doing something connected to Openness.
I fear that this will eventually lead to another silo where work/images from the community which is aiming to enhance specifically OpenStreetMap are kept for creating value/money for a behemoth and will be less free to access for free things.

For me specifically this will greatly curb my enthusiasm towards Mapillary, and I probably won’t upload another +100k images (for which I’m still awaiting my package BTW), talk about it with my geeky friends and write blog posts about it.


Oh, and I haven’t seen that you posted this a while before me: Mapillary Joins Facebook on the Journey of Improving Maps Everywhere

I append my thread here now =

“What are you doing” ?
“I am taking pictures for Facebook but your face will be blurred.”

I am not an accountant. But behind all the beautiful words, what has happened ?

I have always been afraid of the day that the plug would be pulled out of the socket, but this is better.

I still have thoughts but it is a bit late in the evening now, if you know what I mean.

And I am curious about other opinions.

Body is too similar to what your recently posted, just some trouble with the forum watchdog.


Actually, I never wanted to join the forum because of yet another account. But, this Facebook announcement does it for me.

I hoped to never contribute to any commercial data spying agency but unfortunately my trust has been subverted with Facebook acquiring Mapillary.

So, since Facebook now owns the imagery on Mapillary they can finally happily run their face and license plate recognition on time and geo tagged imagery to do what ever sick data analysis thing they want to do. Oh, and yeah sure, Facebook is never going to really use this data. Just like they would never abuse whatsapp conversations… Yeah, ignorance must be a bliss…


I don’t like Facebook and what they do, but they probably cannot mine WhatsApp conversations, since these are end-to-end encrypted. The metadata, e.g. who is in coversation with whom is another story.
But this whole part of the story is another story.

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Yes, they can indeed mine the conversations although the messages are encrypted. They are not interested in the messages itself but the context. WhatsApp just collects words and their count typed into the app as telemetry and sends that back to FB. Just with that information you can easily determine what any particular user is interested in, the user’s age, the user’s level of education, etc. Additionally, they have a very good understanding of what the current private buzz is all about which cannot be found on the public portion of FB or any other public social media service. But yeah, this is a different story…


For my side, I will stop any contribution since I don’t want to have any FB related activity…


I just get the information about the mapillary sellout from a local OpenStreetMap mailinglist - WTF

I don’t want to donate my spare time as a volunteer to companies like Facebook. Thats very sad!


Its also unclear what it exactly means. The blog did not give sufficient information. How exactly are ḿy contributions used by Facebook? What are the mapping needs for them?

Is it true that Facebook has now access to rough mapillary image data (licence plates , faces), and how will they use / exploit it? That looks not good.


For me, this is reason to stop Mapillary immediately and I will delete all my photos. Even if this has to be done manually, it is a huge task.
Facebook / Mapillary will have nice talk about it in the beginning, but we know better. Anything that FB says they won’t do, they do after a while.
For me, this feels like a dagger in the back, to the participants of this - once so nice - project.


My initial reaction was pretty much this:

After all, isn’t it the goal of all startups to sell out to the highest bidder? Anyone remember Polar Rose? And there aren’t so many buyers out there. Besides Facebook, there are Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple and that’s pretty much it in the big league. If you want to cash in, these are the choices. All great and morally unambigous, aren’t they?

I still use Github after Microsoft takeover, Waze after Google takeover and probably lot of other stuff I am not even aware that have changed ownership. Not to mention all their services directly.

Of course, my employer has used Mapillary data for reducing cost and generating revenue so even my personal contributions are not exactly volunteering. So I have somewhat different standing point than true volunteers.

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I am afraid, this is sadly true. When it comes to promises, FB has shown a very bad record. :disappointed:

@jesolem said:

While we previously needed to focus on commercialisation to build and run the platform, joining Facebook moves Mapillary closer to the vision we’ve had from day one of offering a free service to anyone.

Granted, I am not a business professional (I am technical professional) and thus am not best qualified to speak about this stuff but to me this reads like Mapillary was unable to create a sustainable business model for themselves. And, I do not mean this in a bad way. It is indeed very difficult to create a sustainable business model in the digital industry. Kudos to Mapillary for even trying and to have come so far. But, there are far better organizations and companies to partner with or even to sellout to. Did Mapillary really sellout just for the :heavy_dollar_sign::moneybag::heavy_dollar_sign:? I am sorry, but to me Jan Erik Solem’s statement sounds more like a constructed cheap excuse. I am sure there would have been better options to secure Mapillary’s future which would also enable the staff to focus more on the technology with a greater peace of mind.

Just recently, I have read some statements from a German minister and members of the EU commission who finally want to establish European “champions” in the digital industry. Why not go that way? Sure, it is not like European multi-national corporations are much better than US corporations but at least we would not have aided in further agglomeration of data and power over people to the biggest behemoth with one of the worst records in the tech industry. In other words: would I have known upfront years back when I joined Mapillary that some day in the future my images and contributions are going to end up in the hands of FB, I certainly would not have joined nor contributed to Mapillary.

This is indeed a valid question. And, I am afraid the answer is simple: once you own something, you have every right to do whatever you want to do with it to the extent permissible by law (or maybe even a bit more as long as nobody knows). :wink:

So, there is one thing that Mapillary could do to make peace with its skeptics: Open up the technology behind the face and license plate blurring and give it to contributors in form of a standalone application, so that they can blur faces and license plates automatically before upload. This way contributors will not have to worry about privacy being abused by FB or somebody else in the future. Because nobody wants to be a snitch.


Should it be possible for the team to delete all my images with

  1. blurred areas representing a human, and:
  2. blurred areas representing license plates ?

In that case maybe 25% of my uploads will be deleted but at least I will prevent facebook using that data for possible privacy infringement which was never my intention by joining Mapillary.

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After all, isn’t it the goal of all startups to sell out to the highest bidder?

Yes, but price is not the only thing to consider. I would argue that trust is the most important currency in data services.

Of course, my employer has used Mapillary data for reducing cost and generating revenue so even my personal contributions are not exactly volunteering. So I have somewhat different standing point than true volunteers.

It is okay for Mapillary to make a living and customers to reduce costs. Nobody disputes that. And, it also does not matter if the data collected comes from payed contributions or free volunteer donations. The problem is that data collectors have obligations and they have to respect third party rights, and especially of those people who are not even aware that data has been collected about them without their consent, like faces and license plates. So, selling out to a company which has built their entire business model solely on spying on their customers and non-customers (see shadow profiles) is the problem.

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Was it Jan Erik’s decision ? Or did the capital venture fund decide ? And what about the partners ?

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Hi, all.

I was surprised by this move. My first thought was to leave Mapillary immediately; then I thought that Facebook (FB) might bring some great innovation to the app; then I thought about uploaders being used to ‘spy’ for FB.


I’m going to wait to see how this develops, but I already have OpenStreetCam (OSC) installed, and am ready to switch over. Technically, OSC isn’t perfect, but neither is the Mapillary app.

I’d like to have the option to automatically transfer all of my Mapillary images to another source.

Interesting times…


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I will not support Mapillary with any images and gpx tracks furthermore, because of the Facebook deal.
This month I’ve donated 52.4 K pictures, taken by bicycle on first time mapillared roads.
Bye bye

Well done! Especially on unmapped roads.