THOUSANDS OF Amazon listings were left without photos after photo hosting company Photobucket changed its terms of service.
Described as a "ransom demand" and even "illegal" by users, the change has also led to missing photos on entries over at sites like Ebay.
Originally, we had been told that Etsy had also been affected, but they have since told us
"Etsy serves images via internally hosted web servers and cloud based hosting, such as Amazon S3. Photobucket's recent changes do not directly impact how Etsy is displayed to our visitors, as no images when visiting etsy.com are served via their service."
The new rules state that Photobucket users must pay an additional fee to have their photos embedded on third party sites - including, but not limited to e-commerce.
For back bedroom internet retailers, the potentially crippling $399 (around £310) annual charge has caught many unaware and without enough time to decide whether to pay up or migrate images to another provider, which would be ultimately time-consuming. Plus, there's no guarantee that, now this particular Pandora's Box is open, couldn't be repeated by rivals.
Many Photobucket users are refusing to pay up as a matter of principle.
Whilst the headlines are being grabbed by e-commerce, the big losers are forums and small charities who have been greeted by decimated websites after postings have disappeared overnight.
So far, Photobucket is yet to comment on the matter save for this tweet:
⚠️ Thank you for all of the recent feedback and questions. We are trying our best to respond quickly and thank you for your patience :)— Photobucket (@photobucket) 1 July 2017
Whilst customers continue to rage with comments ranging from:
My blog looks like shit. Thousands of articles - SEVEN years of work: pic.twitter.com/T4J47A7bm7— Evelien (@OhFashionNL) 4 July 2017
To suggestions that perhaps Photobucket should have been a bit less retroactive:
You should leave our images that were linked while the service was free. To leave broken links there is not acceptable.— Rosie's Resources (@RosiesResources) 2 July 2017
Many are declaring that they are done with Photobucket altogether:
Good job with the very public seppuku. Never seen a business shoot itself so wilfully in the foot/head like this. Years of goodwill gone.— Generic User (@Generic_user_01) 1 July 2017
And some are suggesting that the move was illegal:
You are breaking the law https://t.co/aDgy9xRnli— Life in a Snaphot (@Katiel27) 2 July 2017
Other sites including Imgur, SmugMug and Google Photos are already picking up the slack, but the actual issue of finding the photos, moving them across and then repointing every single listing is going to take a lot of man-hours.
The damage that Photobucket has done to communities and bloggers worldwide is borderline disastrous as once again, the little guy is beaten up by the big guy.
This is just a microcosm of what your internet looks like without net neutrality, by the way… µ
Liberté, égalité, no piracy
We've had no luck so you don't have to...
Oh Microsoft... not again...
Hmmm... says Microsoft