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Expect blank spaces across the internet as Flickr deletes millions of photos and slashes users’ free storage limit

  • Free users of the photo site will only be allowed to store 1,000 photos and videos, instead of hundreds of thousands under the previous 1 terabyte limit
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 7:08am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 8:27pm

Flickr is to delete millions of photos from the internet, as its new owners attempt to sustain the photo-sharing site after its purchase from Yahoo earlier this year.

Free users of the site will be limited to storing 1,000 photos and videos, with any excess being deleted from February 2019. The limit is a steep reduction from the previous allowance of 1 terabyte of storage per user, about 200,000-500,000 photos each.

The company says only 3 per cent of free users have more than 1,000 photos currently uploaded, and argues many of them are not participating in the site in a way that builds a valuable community.

“The free terabyte largely attracted members who were drawn by the free storage, not by engagement with other lovers of photography,” said Andrew Stadlen, Flickr’s vice-president of product, in a blog post. “This caused a significant tonal shift in our platform, away from the community interaction and exploration of shared interests that makes Flickr the best shared home for photographers in the world.”

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The free limit was attractive to those using Flickr to host images that were presented off-site, particularly independent bloggers and newsletter. As the company deletes images from its archive, visitors to other sites across the net could find blank spaces where imagery should be.

Before the 1TB limit was introduced in 2013, free accounts on Flickr were limited to 200 public photos, with no limit to the number of images that could be stored in private. Yahoo, Flickr’s former owners, increased the limit to 1TB in an effort to revive the site’s prospects, after it had lost the lead in online photo sharing to Instagram.

Stadlenwrote: “Yahoo lost sight of what makes Flickr truly special and responded to a changing landscape in online photo sharing by giving every Flickr user a staggering terabyte of free storage. This, and numerous related changes to the Flickr product during that time, had strongly negative consequences.”

In 2018, Flickr was bought by the photography company SmugMug, and has since been retooled with a greater focus on paid subscriptions over advertising revenue.