Shopping sites like Amazon have been hit with a rather unpleasant surprise, and it resulted in thousands of images displaying different goods being removed. The entire issue happened after the photo-sharing service called Photobucket decided to suddenly change its terms.
Amazon was not the only affected website either, but also Etsy, as well as eBay, and many others at that.
The main problem occurred when Photobucket decided to start charging for the images that are hosted on its platform. And since this platform is often embedded in third-party websites like the ones that are affected by the change, they had to suffer the consequences as well.
Now, Photobucket is basically holding them for ransom, and the companies, forums, and services simply have to pay. It now demands $399 per year in order for third-party companies to continue using its platform on their websites. This can catch pretty much anyone unaware, and social media backlash is the only possible consequence.
As for Photobucket, it has been around for quite a while now, ever since 2003. It stores over 15 billion images, and it claims to have over 100 million customers. It collected all of these customers because it offered ‘free’ accounts. You could use them for uploading images to one destination, and then use them for many different outlets. It was practical and useful, and now it is gone.
And then, on June 26, they advised their users to check out new and updated terms and policies. The change was a massive one, and it did not allow free accounts to continue image-linking to third-party websites. A lot of users did not even pay attention at first, and they only realized the seriousness of the situation when it was too late.
Soon, their images were replaced by graphic, and it said that Photobucket account has to be upgraded in order to link images.
Many were disappointed by this action, and in return, they deleted their Photobucket accounts, and claim that they won’t use it again. Instead, they went to Photobucket’s rivals.
However, this new policy has affected historical social media posts as well. Blogs, forums, pages, and everyone else who has been relying on Photobucket now has to choose to either pay up or lose a lot.
One such forum is Stampboards. It has 17,000+ members, and they all discuss postage stamps, not to mention posting their images. Instead of stamps, those images are now demands for account upgrades.
Users are mostly advised not to pay, but instead to change the service. If this keeps going, Photobucket might lose its business quite soon.
Runcorn’s Aqueous Digital has commented that it is understandable that Photobucket doesn’t want to keep relying on ads. However, they criticized the method of making this change, as well as the amount that they demand. Mostly, it is the fact that it all happened without any announcement or warning.
It just happened, and everyone had to deal with it, and after 14 years of trust and solid work. Now, everyone who has been working with images has to either pay this ridiculously large amount or start everything all over again. For some, that is a lifetime of work, while some won’t even be able to do it. Some of the images perhaps can’t even be replaced, and are forever gone.
Nigel Atherton, editor of Amateur Photographer has said that this is a reminder that relying on free services can have consequences. Any free service like this can only remain free if they are getting enough money. If not, eventually, they will have to do the same.