I just deleted my photos from Flickr. There were 10,457 of them. They told me that I can only have 1,000, so they were going to start automatically deleting them in a couple weeks. I saved them the trouble.
I guess I don’t really have much right to be upset. I’ve been using the service for free for the last five or six years, ever since the retooling by Yahoo in 2013 made the Pro service useless. Before that, I had been a Pro member since joining the service in 2009. I could have gone back to being a Pro member. It’s probably worth the money. But I never seriously considered it.
It’s not like this is the first online service to change their terms. I hardly even noticed when Delicious shut down. Ning went pro years ago. Wikispaces shuttered last year. Elgg…. Remember Elgg? Nah, I didn’t think so. I guess I’m that old. Web 2.0 was built by companies. Those companies, ultimately, were supposed to make money. A few of them did. Most did not. A lot of them were bought by larger companies, which themselves were bought or sold or re-organized. It’s a messy business.
So Flickr was purchased by Yahoo and then Yahoo was purchased by Verizon and reorganized into Oath and ultimately sold to SmugMug. Regardless of who owns them, though, they have to make money. There are several ways to do that. They can charge subscription fees so people can upload and store photos on their site. They can add advertising, so viewers of the site see ads. They can partner with other services, like photo printing or custom branding. And when one approach doesn’t work, they are certainly free to change their terms and revise the strategies and try to continue to exist. I don’t have a problem with that.
But the current policy, announced a couple months ago, says that the 1 TB storage limit is going away. Instead, you can have up to 1,000 photos. In my case, I was using 14 gb (1.4% of the old limit), but had 10,000 photos (1000% of the new limit). So I can start paying for a premium account, or they’ll helpfully delete my old photos for me.
That’s the part that really bothers me. Fine. If you want to limit me, don’t let me upload any more photos until I upgrade or remove some. Maybe reduce the resolution that people can download or set other restrictions on how the content can be used. Add advertising to my photo albums if you have to. But don’t delete my content. There’s something very permanent and irresponsible about that. The content is mine. I’m just letting you use it.
The old saying is if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. It’s a bargain we’ve largely agreed to in this online world. But if you’re going to delete my stuff because it’s not making enough money for you, then you can’t have it.
So I need somewhere else to put my photos online. Or maybe I don’t. Does the world really care about the photos of my kids and vacations? Probably not.
Photo credit: Extinguished, by Earl on (ironically) Flickr.