Life's Annoyances: When Paywalls Are Used as Ransomware!
I have been active on the web since the mid-1990s.
As fellow "old-timers" probably remember, many of our early activity involved a great many forums and online message boards. For me, I have continued using many such till now, in connection with hobbies and interests of mine.
One of the quirks of many BBS setups was always that if you wanted to share a picture of something, you often had to "park it" on a photo server somewhere and share a link; there was no place within the BBS system to actually upload photos to.
So, the long and the short of it is that many of us used a variety of photo hosting services — most of them operating on some kind of "Freemium" model — for the photos we used on message boards.
Which leads me to why this post came about.
A few weeks back, I got a message from one such photo hosting service — Photobucket — asking me to log in in order to "keep my account active."
I understand they were probably looking to purge inactive accounts.
The follow-up email this morning was a "Special Offer" to try their service absolutely free for 30 days (it was always free), after which it would just be a "monthly low low price" to continue, PAID IN ADVANCE FOR A YEAR, and thank you, come again!
I suppose this would have been less bothersome than the very fine print which makes my 20+ years of forum images go away unless I keep up the subscription.
In other words, I do have the "free" option to go in for 30 days and remove all my old images before they shut off hotlinking... but that's still as good as holding my images "hostage" because they know perfectly well that 99% of the population is NOT going to go locate 100's of forum posts to change the URL to some new server.
Between a rock and hard place...
Thinly Disguised Ransomware...
In essence, this amounts to a form of thinly disguised "ransomware."
Fortunately, nothing here is a matter of very much importance... the thing that irks me most is that my images on all those forums will soon be replaced with some "Images hosted by Photobucket" place holder... meaning that my posts now become free advertising for them.
I should hasten to add that there's nothing illegal about what they are doing, and they not denying me access to being able to move my stuff... but having spent a couple of decades touting themselves as a "free photo hosting service for bulletin boards" they do know perfectly well what they are doing.
"Little Deals" Add Up!
It would be easy to say — as I am sure many will — that "$5.99 a month is no big deal," and I am sure that's what this move is counting on.
And they would be absolutely right, that $5.99 a month is no big deal. But while $5.99 a month may not be a "Big Deal," it becomes a big deal when you end up with dozens of such small services and apps, each of which are "no big deal."
I remember not so long ago, @cosmictriage went through her "autopay subscriptions" and ended up shutting off something on the order of $200+ a month's worth of little monthly fees pretty much ALL of which started as "free trials" and "special offers."
Just not worth it!
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!
How about YOU? Ever been struck by this kind of subtle "hostageware?" Do you know what all your small "subscriptions" are? Do you know what your "no-big-deal $4.99 a month" subscriptions ADD UP to? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!
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Created at 20220527 14:42 PDT
Doesn't sound cool...
But, it is probably still better than images just disappearing without a notice. I think it happened to some of my older posts, and I had forgot where those images were actually hosted on. Oh well, not like anyone scrolls that far back.
Maybe I should pay for my own server, it'll be pretty multifunctional as well, so the cost seems justified...
I think I'm more annoyed about it because it feels like manipulation and exploitation, than I'm annoyed by the actual cost.
I'd likely be willing to pay for hosting services if the fees were out in the open, at the start.
I recently got the same message from Photobucket, and had to delete a lot of images just so they would show me the handful that could remain on my old "free" account. Bastards. Of course they can change their TOS however they like, but that doesn't mean their changes are exempt from criticism.
It's the somewhat sneaky and manipulative way they do it that annoys me the most. I forget the name now, but one of the other big "free image hosting" sites did the same thing, a few years back. I told them to go kiss my grits...
This is not just a personal annoyance for the people who uploaded the images, it also means that tech support posts will lose their screenshots/diagrams/hardware photos etc.
And in the long term, we'll face similar issues on Hive. Whether you host your images on PeakD, Imgur, IPFS or your own website, all options have their specific risks or costs.
Indeed, none of the options are without some risk.
That's a good point about tech support posts losing a bunch of content... much of which remains valid for older versions of apps and hardware. But who's going to go back through 100's of old posts and change the image URLs?
That is very annoying as those little amounts surpringly do add up! It's just another money spinner but makes one wonder, are they then going to pay royalties to the photographers or graphic artists? I think not!
I mostly use my own images but at times when I can't find something, I do head on over to Unsplash etc. It is like holding a gun to one's head not so!
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In my 5+ years here I have used maybe a dozen images (in 1800+ posts) that weren't my own. So at least I always have my own back-up versions stored locally, if push comes to shove.
But as @edb pointed out, no place is truly safe... is PeakD always going to store the post images we upload? We'd like to think so... but the actual images aren't actually on the blockchain, just their addresses.
Thanks for visiting @lizelle!
Hi @denmarkguy, I store all my own images on Google Photos, hopefully that keeps it safe...while Google is alive 🤔