On Saturday, October 25 the cloud image storage company Twitpic was expected to shut down its popular image archive and domain. This caused users worry that they would no longer have access to their files. After weeks of talks about a potential acquisition that fell through, Twitpic decided to close its doors. On Sunday Twitter announced a decision about user access following closure – also known as #quitpic – of the failed company.
Twitpic, an independent company, was set up in 2008 as a third-party image-sharing service, and it had been called the best-established business of its type. The service was necessary when Twitter did not have the native ability to easily share images across users.
The image-sharing company allowed people to upload images in order to share them in tweets. It also allowed Twitter users to become “citizen journalists” by uploading pictures of newsworthy events from their phones. An example of this was at the Hudson River plane crash. However, as Twitter’s capability changed to allow images to be uploaded, Twitpic became irrelevant.
An agreement with Twitter on Sunday has allowed users to continue to access their photos and online documents. The question that remains is, for how long. In Twitpic founder Noah Everett’s announcement comes the uncertain term “for the time being.”
Users have been on an emotional roller coaster as they learned in September that Twitpic would be closing. They were told that they had to export their photos by shutdown date of October 26.
After hearing of the closing, users were later led to believe their photos would be safe because Noah Everett tweeted in mid-September about an acquisition. Users then learned in mid-October that the announcement was premature because the terms of agreement could not be met by the potential buyer.
Recent Twitter capability has made it unnecessary to store photos on cloud storage. The other issue leading to the closing is that Twitter prevented Twitpic from accessing Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API) due to a trademark dispute over their similar name.
Twitter users did not know if they could access their images after Twitpic closed, leading to #quitpic. Since users shared images across Twitter, the two companies agreed that it made sense for Twitter to have control over them. In addition, both companies have a stated belief in protecting users and their data.
The decision by the two companies is for continued viewing access, but no addition of new photos. Beginning Sunday, users will be able to log on to their profiles, and export, download, or delete content. However, apps are no longer supported, either through iOS or Android systems.
The company Archive Team, a loose collective of archivists and programmers, are making a protective effort. They have promised to “save the digital heritage” of Twitpic by making a full copy of its current view because of the uncertain future agreement between the two companies.
While access by Twitpic users will continue to be available on Twitter after the “Quitpic” closure, many still remain concerned. The question remains as to how long users have until their images can no longer be accessed.
By Fern Remedi-Brown