Photo via Beatrice Murch/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
Imgur's time as the de facto image hosting service for Reddit may be coming to an end. The self-proclaimed "front page of internet" is launching its own image uploading feature that could end the need for a third-party host.
The announcement of Reddit's in-house image hosting service came from a member of Reddit's product team posting under the username amg137. He announced via the ChangeLog subreddit that the social media site was launching a beta version of the feature within a limited run of subreddits.
The communities that get the first crack at the upload feature are GetMotivated, EarthPorn, Gaming, Space, OldSchoolCool, Sports, Art, Aww, DataIsBeautiful, Food, Funny, GIFs, MildlyInteresting, movies, PhotoshopBattles, and Pics. All 16 are default subreddits, and many are image-heavy communities that will provide an immediate test for the service.
Reddit's image uploader will allow for photos up to 20MB in size and GIFs up to 100MB. According to amg137, the images won't be compressed and will hold their full, original quality, though Exif data won't be retained in the upload.
The upload restrictions put in place by Reddit are comparable to those of Imgur, the current site of choice for most visual content posted on Reddit. Imgur allows for 20MB images and 200MB GIFs, though it compresses any file over 1MB for anonymous uploads and over 5MB for account holders.
The launch of a first-party image hosting feature on Reddit puts Imgur in an odd position. The service has been an integral part of Reddit's growth to the web's one-stop shop for browsing. The image host even received funding from Reddit in 2014 during its first funding round that raised $40 million.
"This isn’t a surprise to us," a spokesperson for Imgur told the Daily Dot. "Tools for uploading images are an expected part of any platform these days."
The move is sure to impact Imgur, but the company has grown into a destination all its own, as well. The spokesperson for the company noted that while Imgur started as an image-sharing service, it’s "evolved beyond that and is now a massive community of people around the world sharing and discovering the most awesome images from all around the internet."
The spokesperson assured that Imgur would carry on regardless of Reddit's decision, stating, "We’re super focused on our mission to surface up the world’s most entertaining content and making Imgur the best visual community in the world. That said, nothing will change for Reddit users who would like to use Imgur to share their images on Reddit."
For Reddit, it makes sense to move to a platform that it has complete control over. The built-in feature promises to make navigation on the site easier by taking users directly to the page that hosts an image, and GIFs will work natively within Reddit's apps rather than requiring users to leave the app to view the content.
It also presents new questions for the company in terms of how it enforces its content policies. The site has previously played host to its share of questionable content, including leaked photos of celebrities and images that were used on subreddits that were deemed hateful.
When Reddit moved last year to ban certain subreddits based on the content shared within them, Imgur CEO Alan Schaaf told the communities in a now deleted post, "We're not doing anything to single you out, we're not policing your content....You're allowed to post your content on Imgur," though he noted that Imgur has its own content guidelines.
According to a post from amg137, the same rules that apply to the rest of Reddit apply to uploaded images, which means any image that contains content that is illegal; is involuntary pornography; encourages or incites violence; threatens, harasses, or bullies or encourages others to do so; is personal and confidential information; impersonates someone in a misleading or deceptive manner; or is spam is subject to deletion.
Amg137 clarified that "[Not safe for work] content is acceptable if being submitted to a subreddit that allows it."
A Reddit spokesperson offered the following comment:
"Reddit is excited to begin rolling out a more seamless content uploading experience for users with in-house image hosting.
For many years, Imgur has been an integral part of Reddit — we are grateful to them for enabling our users to share the things they love and have a richer content experience.
At this time, the Reddit community can still choose to use Imgur or other sites for image hosting."