Popular photo sharing site Flickr has announced that as of January 8, 2019, the service’s free accounts will be limited to just 1,000 photos or videos, anything over that will be automatically deleted. That is WAY down from the generous 1TB of free storage that the service currently allows free users.
Created in 2004, Flickr was bought by Yahoo in 2005. The original model was that free accounts were limited to 200 pictures, with payment required to go beyond this limit. During Yahoo’s ownership, free Flickr accounts were made more and more capable, with the biggest change coming in 2013, when free accounts were given 1TB of total space. Yahoo was bought by Verizon in 2017, and in April of this year, Flickr was sold to SmugMug, another photo hosting site.
Flickr’s new owners, SmugMug, say the changes will allow the service to concentrate on focusing on fostering interaction between users.
First, and most crucially, the free terabyte largely attracted members who were drawn by the free storage, not by engagement with other lovers of photography. 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. We know those of you who value a vibrant community didn’t like this shift, and with this change we’re re-committing Flickr to focus on fostering this interaction.
SmugMug says it wants Flickr to be funded through subscriptions, not by advertising or by selling data about its users.
Second, you can tell a lot about a product by how it makes money. Giving away vast amounts of storage creates data that can be sold to advertisers, with the inevitable result being that advertisers’ interests are prioritized over yours. Reducing the free storage offering ensures that we run Flickr on subscriptions, which guarantees that our focus is always on how to make your experience better. SmugMug, the photography company that recently acquired Flickr from Yahoo, has long had a saying that resonates deeply with the Flickr team and the way we believe we can best serve your needs: “You are not our product. You are our priority.” We want to build features and experiences that delight you, not our advertisers; ensuring that our members are also our customers makes this possible.
The new policy will make the free level of service more of a “here’s a taste” level of service, much like the original model of the service was when it was founded.
If you are using Flickr’s service to store massive amounts of photos and videos, I strongly suggest that you begin moving you files off of the service immediately. Especially if they are the only copies of your memories that you have saved.