On Flickr’s Change in Data Retention Policy and Twitter’s New Photosharing Service

I’ve been out shooting for six solid days or so and so wasn’t around when two important news stories broke, so I’m commenting on them briefly after the fact.

The first news story was that Flickr has changed their policy from immediate and permanent deletion, to a softer one where user data is retained for 90 days prior to permanent deletion. I wish I knew more about why Flickr made this change or how this new policy came to be adopted, but I will say that this is excellent news. My single biggest criticism with Flickr over the years has been their tendency to shoot first and ask questions later regarding user account deletions.

Once flickr destroyed someone’s account they’d then claim that they couldn’t restore it even if they wanted to. Earlier this year Flickr took a lot of heat for accidently deleting the wrong account and showed that they were in fact able to restore an account.

At least one user has claimed that since adopting this new policy that they have in fact actually had a deleted account recovered. I don’t know the details on this case or why Flickr changed their mind and reinstated the linked account, but it would seem that appealing to flickr after the deletion will in some cases work.

My single biggest fear while on flickr has been that I’d wake up one morning and find my account nuked. They’ve already nuked one of my groups in the past and having my account deleted has always been a worry of mine.

While it’s still a worry of mine that Flickr could suddenly decide one day that I’m “that guy,” and nuke me, it’s good to know that I’d have time to fight for my account in the future should this happen.

I’d say that this change is the most positive thing flickr has done in the past five years. Thank you especially to Daniel Brogan at Flickr for finally making this happen. 😉

Secondly, TechCrunch is reporting that Twitter is getting into the photosharing game — supposedly an announcement is coming this week.

I think this is great for a couple of reasons. First the leading player in the Twitter photo space twitpic is a total ripoff for photographers. When you use it you are giving them the right to sell your photos through some fine print in the TOS. Many people don’t read TOS agreements and twitpic doesn’t really advertise or clearly disclose that they can screw you over and steal your rights.

It’s one thing for a company to actually claim this right, but then not actually try and use it. It’s quite another thing for a company to actually come out and state that they are going to start doing this. In twitpic’s case they violated this trust with their users. What’s worse, the revenue split that goes with your photos that twitpic sells is 100% twitpic 0% photographer.

So as far as a new Twitter photosharing service screwing over twitpic, I’m all for that. Unfortunately out of the twitpic rights grab, some other photosharing services used that opportunity to differentiate themselves (like Mobypicture). It will probably make it harder for any external photosharing service to survive which is based primarily on the Twitter ecosystem, with an actual Twitter photosharing component built in.

As far as what twitter might offer for us, I hope that they think about giving users full rights over their own photos (like flickr, Mobypicture, 500px and others do). It would a bummer to see Twitter try to do the same rights grab that twitpic did.

I do think that there is a place for microblogging photos. Many photographers don’t want camera phone photos cluttering up their flickrstream or other places, but still want to use them to show what’s happening and going on in their life on a daily basis. A Twitter photosharing option would seem ideal for this.

I’m not exactly sure what a Twitter photosharing service would/could look like. Maybe like Instagram a little bit except that you’d be able to use it without having an iPhone. Looking forward to seeing whatever they come up with though.

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  1. thanks for this post. good to hear that flickr finally shows some improvement on this account deleting issue.

    all the best

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’m not much of a photographer myself although because of my art background I can appreciate things like your pic The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face more than most maybe. Nice shot by the way. Anyway, I had no idea about twitpics TOS. That is really amazing. Maybe they think of their users as 16 year old girls running around taking snap shots with crappy flip phones. Mind boggling.