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A Facebook Engineer and His Photo Theft Tutorial

A Facebook Engineer and His Photo Theft Tutorial

Jesse Chen LogoJesse Chen is a UC Berkley graduate and a current engineer working on Facebook’s photo team. However, he became the bane of the photography community this week when a two-year-old post written by him and a friend, Jonathan Tien, caught the eye of various photography blogs and forums.

The tutorial, which has since been removed, instructed users how to download graduation photos from various websites, including defeating any anti-copying technology, and then use Photoshop (or a similar program) to remove the “Proof” and other watermarks on the image.

The discovery of the post has made Chen a near-instant target. With headlines such as “Facebook Photos Employee Posts Step-by-Step Instructions for Stealing Grad Photos,” “Facebook Engineer Teaches Grads How to Steal Photos in Step by Step Guide,” and “And the Award for Guy Most Likely to Make Me Say a Bad Word This Week Goes To…” he doesn’t seem to have made many friends among photographers and artists.

His Twitter account has been hit with dozens of angry tweets and increasingly mainstream sites are also picking up the story, including The Register.

Chen and Facebook, so far, have not responded to the controversy. Chen’s only Tweet since the controversy was on an unrelated post and Facebook has had no comment.

But while the photography community is understandably upset at Chen and what he did, his tutorial seems to come from a common misconception people have about copyright and photography, one that Chen’s tutorial is an excellent opportunity to teach on.Continue Reading