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Image and video hosting service Flickr has announced controversial changes affecting users with free accounts.
The company, which previously made 1 Terabyte of storage available for free, revealed a new content limit Thursday for its unpaid account holders.
Beginning on Jan. 8, free users will not only be limited to 1,000 photos and videos but will have any content over that cap deleted by Flickr.
Flickr goes from 1 TB of free storage to just 1,000 photos and is handling this transition in the biggest nightmare scenario for a free service. Download or they delete them for you. pic.twitter.com/Gu1bK78B2H
— Rich DeMuro (@richdemuro) November 1, 2018
In a statement on the company’s website, Flickr said its free users would have roughly one month after the new policy kicks in to download any photos or videos they wish to retain.
“After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content actively deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit,” Flickr said.
The company defended the changes in a press release while also advertising updates to its Flickr Pro accounts.
“Unfortunately, ‘free’ services are seldom actually free for users,” the press release states. “Users pay with their data or with their time. We would rather the arrangement be transparent.”
The paid accounts, coming in at $49.99 per year, will now include, among other things, “unlimited storage, ad-free browsing, advanced stats, an unmatched community, and more.”
News that Flickr would potentially be deleting millions of photos from its servers was met with mixed reviews on social media. While the company attempted to highlight supporters of the change, many others voiced their displeasure.
Endless content will be lost, and much of it probably no longer exists locally. Many Flickr accounts are totally inactive but contain a wealth of information. The photos are mundane, but document the history of our culture. Flickr is burning a digital Library of Alexandria pic.twitter.com/WSsYSfPsUl
— Michael Steeber (@MichaelSteeber) November 1, 2018
The new policy comes roughly seven months after Flickr was acquired by professional photo hosting service SmugMug.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.