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Facebook's communal photo albums make it easier to share snapshots--or ignore them

In what seems like a no-duh move, Facebook is making photos more of a social experience. Rather than individuals uploading vacation photos for their friends to ogle--though there will still be plenty of that--users can now add photos to shared albums.

The good news: A group of friends can add photos of their communal camping trip to one album that all of their mutual connections can collectively ignore. Okay, okay, so photo album-sharing is actually really beneficial. Up to 50 friends can share 200 photos in one album, which is perfect for events--proms, weddings, trips--or sharing pictures with family members.

Photo album-sharing is designed for individual profiles, a Facebook spokesperson told TechHive. There are no plans to offer the feature on Pages.

Facebook engineer Bob Baldwin told Mashable that privacy settings will apply to shared albums: The album creator can choose to make it public or limit it to contributors or friends of contributors. Only the creator can change that setting.

Facebook isn't exactly reinventing the wheel here. As AllThingsD notes, several startups are based on the idea of building communities around photos--there's EverLapse, Cluster, Albumatic, and more. Those apps have more specialized features--auto-syncing, location-based tagging--because Facebook is more about choosing Big Concepts to add to the network that niche-y products. Even Google experimented with a communal photo app called Photovine back in the day (two years ago).

Because Facebook is Facebook, its photo album-sharing feature is desktop-only and starting with a limited number of users. A Facebook representative said a small group of English users will see the feature Monday before it rolls out to all English users. Eventually, the product will go international.

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