LONDON — Facebook is trying to make it easier for users to move photos from the social network to rival online services, reacting to European privacy laws and criticism from regulators that its size and control over data hinders competition.
On Monday, Facebook said it would begin testing a “data portability” tool in Ireland that would allow users there to move photos and videos from Facebook to Google Photos. Critics immediately said the initiative did not go far enough.
Facebook’s control over personal data has been central to ongoing antitrust investigations in Washington and Europe. Authorities say Facebook holds so much information about its users, data it uses to fuel its digital advertising business and improve its services, that it creates a competitive imbalance that rivals can’t match.
The company has long benefited from so-called network effects, where the value of its services increases as more people join. But many users have felt they can’t leave Facebook because transferring photos and videos elsewhere was too difficult. To foster more competition, officials have debated how to make companies let users take their content and data to other services.
Facebook is starting the project in Ireland with Google, hardly a small upstart, but said that it would expand it to other photo services and other parts of the world by June.
Facebook said the photo-moving service came after discussions with officials in countries including Brazil, Britain, Germany and Singapore.
“We’ve learned from our conversations with policymakers, regulators, academics, advocates and others that real-world use cases and tools will help drive