When you upload photos to social media, they’re really just cheap copies of your favorite moments. Lots of our clients find out the hard way when organizing digital photos. Their online accounts are cluttered with junk, and the phones with their raw files are long gone.

Previously, our digital photo organizers covered the issues that come up when you post pictures on social platforms. This blog post shows how to avoid those risks when you curate and share images to social media.

Are the risks still fresh in your mind? Jump down to protect your photos on:

Social Media’s Effects on Your Pictures and Videos

Like we discussed last week, no photos are safe on social media. To quickly recap the risks:

File Compression
Social media sites compress your photo uploads to move faster and save space. Compression shrinks digital files so they’re easy to store and share. It’s a complex process that essentially cuts out lots of tiny details, but leaves enough for your eyes and ears to fill in the blanks.
Stripping Metadata
The world uploads hundreds of millions of photos every day. Social networks delete some of the metadata–dates, locations, and more–from these files to lighten the load. But without metadata, you lose context that’s helpful for organizing digital images.
Changing Filenames
Most digital cameras add dates and sequence numbers to the filenames of the photos they shoot. Social media often change these names to suit their own needs.
Hacked, Deleted, and Locked Accounts
You could completely lose access to online media if your social profiles are locked or hacked. Some platforms’ privacy settings even block you from downloading photos on public accounts unless you’re logged in.
Social Media Shutdowns and Mergers
We put this one last as it’s the least pressing danger, but even the biggest tech companies can downsize, shut down, or get bought out. In these cases, your photos won’t last unless someone else decides to keep them online.


Adjust Social App Settings to Protect Your Photos

Here’s the good news: you can proactively prevent the risks to your photos on social media.

If you shoot movies and pictures with in-app camera tools, you can adjust your app settings to save recordings directly to your device. This way, you’ll always have those crystal-clear originals for high-quality archiving and printing.

Here’s how to adjust app settings to save the raw photos you shoot in the more popular social media apps:


Tap What’s on your mind?

screenshot of blank post field on Facebook app

Scroll down to find and tap the Camera option.

screenshot of Facebook app post options

Option 1: Save Every Photo

Tap the Settings icon.

screenshot of Facebook in-app camera with arrow pointing to the Settings icon

Turn on the Save Shared Photos option to automatically save all the photos and videos you shoot in the app to your phone.

screenshot of Facebook app camera settings with red circle around the Save Shared Photos button

Option 2: Selectively Save Your Favorite Movies and Photos

Shoot the photo or video.

Tap the Save button to keep whatever you just shot.

screenshot of Facebook in-app camera with arrow pointing to the Save button


Go to your Instagram Profile.

screenshot of Instagram app home screen with arrow pointing to the profile icon

Tap the Menu icon.

screenshot of Instagram app profile screen with arrow pointing to the menu icon

Tap Settings at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

screenshot of Instagram app main drop-down menu with arrow pointing to the Settings option

Tap Account.

screenshot of Instagram app settings drop-down menu with arrow pointing to the Account option

Tap Original Posts.

screenshot of Instagram app Account drop-down menu with arrow pointing to the Original Posts option

Turn Save Original Posts ON.

screenshot of Instagram app Original Posts options with red box drawn around the Save Original Posts option


Twitter doesn’t offer in-app settings, but you can give it access to your device’s Photos to save in-app shots to your phone.

For iPhone and iPad:

Open Settings.

Tap Privacy.

Tap Photos.

Allow access for Twitter.

For Android:

Open Settings on your phone (look for a gear-shaped icon in apps or the home screen).

example of an android phone settings icon shaped like a gear

Tap Apps.

screenshot of an android phone settings menu with an arrow pointing to the apps option

Tap Twitter.

screenshot of an android apps menu with an arrow pointing to the Twitter option

Tap Permissions.

screenshot of an android twitter app info menu with an arrow pointing to the permissions option

Allow access to Camera and Storage.

screenshot of an android app permissions menu with arrows pointing to the camera and storage buttons


Open Snapchat.

Swipe down on the main screen to access the user screen.

Tap the Settings icon in the upper right-hand corner.

screenshot of Snapchat user screen with an arrow pointing to the settings icon

Scroll down to the Features section and tap Memories.

screenshot of the features section of the Snapchat settings drop-down menu with an arrow pointing to the Memories option

Tap Save Button.

screenshot of the Snapchat memories menu with an arrow pointing to the save button option

Select Memories & Camera Roll. This option lets you save Snaps to your device (Camera Roll) and create backup copies online (Memories).

screenshot of the Snapchat Save Button menu with a red box drawn around the Memories and Camera Roll option

The next time you Snap, tap the Save button to store the original in your Camera Roll and Memories.

screenshot of a newly-taken Snap with an arrow pointing to the Save button

Before you go, did you catch last week’s Q&A with our digital photo organizers? Here’s their tip for saving photos in-app if you like applying edits and Snapchat filters:

“If the photo was taken in social and edited in social, then only the edited version is saved to your phone, and only if your settings are set appropriately. If the photo was taken on your camera and edited in social, you will have both as separate files (if your settings are set appropriately).”
– Margaret McCarthy

In most cases, the photos you shoot from social apps will save directly to your Camera Roll or the default photo storage on your device. Check there first, then try your phone’s Downloads or Gallery folders if your pictures aren’t where you expected.


Ready, Set, Safely Share to Social Media

people holding phones and sitting next to each other

Most people aren’t aware of these side effects to your photos, or how to avoid them. But now you are, and it’s your turn to pay it forward. If you learned something today, share this post so your friends know the right way to upload photos to social media, too.

Don’t forget to check back next week! We’re sharing an easy tutorial for downloading your photos from social media. This method doesn’t recover the originals, but it’s a solid last resort if you can’t find them anywhere else.