Photobucket faces backlash for deleting users’ images and demanding ransom

Thousands of images from online shopping sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, have beentaken down after a photo sharing website quietly changed its terms.

Denver-based Photobucketis facing backlash on social media for introducing a $400 fee to customers who want to embed photos on third-party sites like online marketplaces or forums. Many users were unaware of the charge, and were surprised to find their images had beenreplaced with error messages.

Long-time Photobucket customers have accused the company of extortion, and now claim it is holding their images for ransom.

People are furious at Photobucket for not clearly explainingthe changes to its more than 100 million customers. In June, the company posted a short blog post asking users to review updated terms and policies. Instead of writing a few sentences that would explicitly describethe fee and consequences for not paying it, Photobucket left it up to customers to dig into the lengthy documents.

Within the terms and agreements is a brief section outlining different account plans. It explains that Photobuckets most popular paid plan (102GB for $100 a year) no longer allows third-party image hosting, and that customers who need photos hosted on their site will need to pay $400 a year for the top-tier option.

“One of the biggest issues, however, was that it came out of the blue,” marketing company Aqueous Digitalwrote in a blog post. “No one knew about it. There were no announcements, no emails warning people that it was about to happen and more importantly, no explanation.”

Photobucket responded in a generic Twitter post without apology.

Some usershave already turned to competitors to get their photos back online.

H/T the Verge

Read more: