Thousands of listings from online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are now filled with unsightly error images by Photobucket after the photo hosting site quietly introduced a $399 annual fee to users who want to embed images on third party websites. Users are now accusing Photobucket of extortion, as the service failed to make the update to its terms of service abundantly clear.
It all began last week when Photobucket announced in a short blog post that it had updated its terms of service that had begun taking effect from June 20th. Nowhere in the blog post did Photobucket highlight the most important change, which was that it will now cost uploaders $400 a year to insert their photos on another website using direct image links.
Yeah, I just noticed this yesterday, when I saw a bunch of my pictures no longer showing on the front of my blog. This is so not cool. Pictures are an important part of my blog. As I recommended in my previous post J.R.’S TIPS FOR NEW BLOGGERS, I think it’s good to add an image at the beginning of each blog, as that tends to catch a reader’s eye when the blog is linked somewhere. I also like to add multiple pictures or gifs into the body of long posts, to break up the wall of text.
Well, now I tend to just upload those pictures or gifs directly to my media collection directly on WordPress, but for years I was mostly using photobucket to host the pics, and then I’d link to them here. Which means now I have no idea how many of my 991 (counting this one) posts will no longer be showing the accompanying images, and will instead be showing THIS:
This is SO effed up! I have to look through every single post now, to check and re-do the images?!? One of the things I pride myself on is having such a diverse amount of topics on this blog, therefor I never know when someone may come across a certain post years after I published it, via some google search or something. I mean, just today I got two new hits on this post from December 28, 2012!
And, yes, the image in that post was hotlinked, so it wasn’t showing, so I had to look up and upload a new one today.
And I’m not the only one affected like this. Far from it.
“Photobucket have killed the internet … Well done,” wrote Twitter user Wevsky. “I want to know why you think it’s cool to destroy a decade worth of posts on many forums and expect people to be held to ransom for £399.”
Andrea H. tweeted: “Soooo angry! I have five years of blog posts that are ruined now.” Evelien added: “My blog looks like s–t. Thousands of articles — SEVEN years of work.”
Colin Graham wrote: “Congrats on successfully committing corporate suicide. Wouldn’t it have been less messy to simply shut down altogether?”
Twitter user Spammals described it as “how to destroy a business overnight.” “Even if you revert the change it’s too late,” they wrote. “The damage is now done and it grows worse every second.”
User Superfuture wrote: “We now have 3.2 million forum posts from 2003 littered with your ransom images. This has to be illegal. Hello all class action lawyers.”
I know to some of you non-bloggers or or non-website hosts who are reading this, it may seem like an overreaction, but this does screw up a lot of people’s work.
And, look, despite my generally radically left-wing social views, I’m not a communist. I believe in capitalism. I never thought Photobucket was a charity, it’s a business. And businesses exist to make money. I get it.
So I understand if they’ve looked and realized that they’re ad-based system was no longer generating sufficient revenue, in comparison to how much they’re being used, and want to switch to a subscription-based service. But as others have pointed out, they’ve handled this completely wrong.
At the very least, they should have made this new service, starting from now. With any pictures uploaded before the change, grandfathered in, so they’re not affected.
And, even so, for a reasonable price ($20 a year?), I’d be willing to pay a subscription to host pics, at least to keep all previously hot-linked pics still active. I’ll just add that yearly cost to what I already spend to maintain this blog.
Of course, even that wouldn’t completely solve my problem. As I have, I think, 7 or 8 photobucket accounts that I’ve created over the years. And images hotlinked on this blog come from different accounts. Which means even paying for one, after figuring out which one I’ve used the most, that would still leave many images unlinked, so I’d still have to go through this blog to check on all old posts and see what needs new pics to be uploaded to.
So no matter what I’m screwed. And I don’t like being screwed. And now I don’t like photobucket. Let’s see if they survive this move.