The Galaxy S3, S4, HTC One, and many other Android phone & tablets are tightly integrated with Facebook photos, Dropbox, and Google/Picasa albums.
On initial boot you are prompted you to enter your account credentials for each of the services. Many are surprised to find a gallery filled with 100's if not 1,000's of unwanted gallery and contact photos. Luckily, there's a way to undo this behavior — although I'd consider the second part of this procedure to be a workaround more than a long term solution.
Part 1: Disable Synchronization:
I will use Facebook as an example, but the process below is the same for Google Photos, Picasa Albums, and Dropbox.
- Tap the Menu Button > Settings > Accounts and sync.
- Choose one of the listed services (e.g., Facebook), and uncheck the option to sync photos.
- Tap the Menu Button > Settings > Applications Manager
- Tap the All tab
- Scroll through the list and tap the Facebook application.
- Tap Clear Data and Clear Cache
Part 3: Delete Photo Thumbnails:
You'd think we'd be done, but there's still more to go. Some of the above services create thumbnail images on the devices SD card — not all of which are in the same location. The best place to start is to open \DCIM\.thumbnails any remove any relevant thumbnails. You should also check for application specific folders (e.g., Facebook or Dropbox).
Most devices include a built in file manager to assist you in locating and modifying files and folders. Some are limited in nature, and will not necessarily display all folder and/or file types.
Do yourself a favor and install a 3rd party file explorer, such as Root Explorer. Files can be displayed in a grid like pattern, so you can quickly identify the file type, and whether it's a thumbnail or not.
A hard reset wipes all device data, and returns it to a fresh, out of the box state. The process for initiating a hard reset varies depending on your specific device menus. If you go with this option, just be sure an skip any screens that prompt you to sync with 3rd party services such as Facebook and Dropbox.
As an Android enthusiast, I'm embarrassed that any user should need to go through all of this hassle, to solve what should be an intuitive set of steps that can be accomplished in less than 30 seconds. I'm sure a fix is in the works.
If you've discovered another method, other than the one listed above, drop a note in the comments section below.