Google killed Panoramio and robbed our data

On November 4th 2016, Google destroyed most features of Panoramio, a photo sharing website and community of which I’ve been a member since 2007. Today, only our photos remain, on borrowed time until the full closure of Panoramio in November 2017.


Within seconds, Panoramio’s 4 million users lost their tags, statistics, comments and above all geo-tags. I don’t really care for comments and stats, but I do for tags and geo-tags which I manually added to each photo, at the cost of tens of hours of work for a total of 1204 pictures.

A message in English only informed users that Panoramio was about to close, but assured that we would be able to export our data during a full year until November 4th 2017 if we don’t want them automatically copied to another Google product : « If you choose, you can also export all your data and take it somewhere else. » and « Although you’ll no longer be able to create new accounts, upload your photos, comment or like other content in Panoramio after November 4, 2016, you’ll still have access to your photos and be able to export your data until November 2017. »

This promise has not been kept : except the photos themselves, our data has indeed been stolen by Google, and our work too. Lots of messages have been posted on the Forum by angry and/or desperate users, but these were not enough to trigger any reaction from Google…

They could have provided us with a backup solution that allows recovery of tags, stats and geo-data, yet they didn’t bother.

They could have issued comprehensive information about the changes that would happen on November 4th, in most common languages, but they just published an incomplete page in English.

They could help us with the transition to Google Maps or whatever, by listening to our comments and answering our questions on a dedicated forum thread, but instead they chose to deactivate the “report feedback” button days (weeks ? months ?) before November 4th and to keep silent. Yet I saw a post on a Google forum (don’t remember which one) where a Google moderator wrote how much they “liked the Panoramio community” – just lies, lies, lies…

After all these years, they could have understood who we are and how much we love the planet, nature wonders, journeys, true people, beautiful lights… and true life. But at Google, they just don’t care for anything else than collecting Big Data, trying to control every aspect of our lives and making loads of money, so they came to us with their ridiculous Local Guides rubbish, convinced that we would volunteer and post stupid ad pics of businesses for which WE DON’T CARE AT ALL.

They could have developed a photo-sharing solution with Panoramio-like facilities, as they advertised in favour of Google Maps. But GM is not worth a tenth of what Panoramio was, and the geo-location of automatically transferred photos is totally inaccurate because they are attached to the nearest POI, not to their real location.

The users of Panoramio contributed to the success of Google : they enriched Google Maps and Google Earth with millions of quality pictures of this world (75 billion views in total). But Google only show absolute contempt to us and our careful work, not even answering a single word ! Remember their “Don’t be evil” motto ?

I won’t stay with such insane people and when all my data will be manually recovered through WaybackMachine, I’ll be uploading my photos in WordPress only and nowhere else !

12 thoughts on “Google killed Panoramio and robbed our data

  1. Unfortunately WaybackMachine recovered only part of my photos, and so most of the comments and tags are lost.
    Thank you very very very much, Google!

  2. I must also mention that I had posted photos of many other areas of the United States that I had traveled to and avidly photographed. Hundreds upon hundreds of photos gone with no chance of reclamation.

  3. I had photos from the air when I flew a Powered Paraglider in an area where I was the only pilot. I had photos of a changing sand flow island that merged with it’s parent island and completely changed the area around a now unusable fishing pier. I also had photos before and after two hurricanes split the island in two and wiped it clean of many condo homes leaving only posts sticking out of the sand. It also unearthed a long lost remnant of a sailing ship that ran aground and was covered by the sands of Dauphin Island, Alabama.

  4. I’m sooo sad. Never posted a photo, but I spent hours and hours and hours traveling around, learning about wonderful places I’ll probably never see in person. So disappointing to open Google Earth and see lots of pics of hotels and restaurants. Internet used to be about sharing and now it’s all about selling stuff. It’s super sad.

  5. Yes, what happened to Panoramio made me to lose trust in Google and in contributing online for the “greater good”. I’ve had over 2500 pictures uploaded to Panormio and it took a while to get the metadata back (using Wayback Machine, too).

    I’ve seen that google deleted also the discussion group and now I get the message “There is no group named “panoramio-questions-support”.”

    • “After destroying their work, make them silent.”

      You’re right, they closed the Panoramio forum… but I’ve read that the few “Panoramians” who are still posting photos on Google are now shouting in the LocalGuides forum. Hopeless, I’m afraid.

      Glad you managed to recover your stolen metadata.

  6. I had nearly 300 images on Panoramio, geo-tagged to Google Earth/Maps, and they are all gone. Followed their instructions, and *poof*. The only images I have left on Maps are the one I had to re-post. I had images of stuff that no longer exists. At least they’re still on my hard drive.

    Thanks for nothing, Google.

    • Keep these images out of Google if you can – they don’t deserve them. And the new geo-tags are totally inaccurate, as they’re related to Google POIs and not true location.

  7. They just killed Panoramio for the sake of their other business: Google Maps. It’s like Microsoft bought and killed epic Nokia for their shitty phones. Business sharks do not have feelings and don’t care about people at all.

  8. They don’t care. More and more people are being robbed since 2008 and The Crash. It is par for the course now and disgusts me. I have been victim of not one but 3 frauds since then. Panoramio is the 4th. I could go on but what’s the point? Morals have been cast aside now and it will only get much much worse

    sorry for your loss and disappointment (is that the word?)

    Mike Fox

    • Thank you Mike for commenting and sorry for the late reply – I’m busier in the French side of this website. Disappointment is not enough : I was disgusted. But this is an old story now and I managed to remove ALL my photos from Panoramio before the official day of closure, as I wouldn’t leave anything to those nasty G guys.

      From both what you’re saying and my own experience, I understand that we should avoid spending too much time uploading pics here and there, as the “business sharks” (as Massimo rightly calls them) will never care about us and our patient work.

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