Millions of photos are posted to Facebook every day — some of which are widely shared and become viral. A recent comprehensive study by Facebook shows that roughly 5 percent of photos uploaded to the site are then reshared.
While that might not seem like much, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure Jay Parikh noted in January that there are more than 240 billion photos on Facebook’s servers right now, with 350 million more added to the site each day. Facebook’s photo storage grows by 7 petabytes per month.
It’s the viral photos that account for most of the share activity. Facebook Data Scientists Alex Dow, Lada Adamic and Adrien Friggeri recently published a paper, presented at the International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, about the anatomy of a highly-shared photo. They discovered that photos that are shared at least once are shared an average of 14.8 times. The top 0.5 percent of shared photos (those with more than 500 shares over the span of two weeks) account for 50 percent of all reshare activity on the site.
The team examined two pictures: one posted by President Barack Obama of himself hugging First Lady Michelle Obama shortly after Obama’s re-election, and a photo posted by Petter Kverneng, a young Norwegian man hoping to get 1 million likes so his friend would have sex with him.