Amazon and eBay have found themselves shorn of thousands of product images after photo-sharing platform Photobucket ended support for free picture hosting, demanding that users sign up to a $400 per year subscription plan to keep their services.
The abrupt move saw images de-listed from an array of websites, forums and blogs to be replaced by a ‘ransom demand’ graphic urging users to upgrade their plan to continue to enable third party hosting.
This follows an update to the company’s terms of service last week which caught many unawares, prompting a social media backlash from irate users angered at the sudden removal of their images – many of which were used to illustrate product listings but with hobbyists and personal accounts also affected.
Up till now Photobucket had relied on advertising income to support its services but is now attempting to adopt a subscription model to diversify its income. The manner in which this has been done however, burying the change in a lengthy legal document with little notice, has angered many.
In a blog post digital marketing specialist Aqueous Blue wrote: “There were no announcements, no emails warning people that it was about to happen and more importantly, no explanation.
"Bulletin boards across the globe are being crippled as previously vibrant threads with detailed images are disappearing.
"People who have used Photobucket for hosting these images successfully for over 10 years are finding that they will have to literally start again with what for some, amounts to a lifetime's work.”