If you’ve spent any time on the internet back in the early 2000s, you definitely ran into Webshots. It was the photo-sharing service everyone used before Photobucket, before Flickr or Picasa, and before Facebook and Instagram. Hell, you still might have pictures on Webshots! Well, you better go get them because they’re about to get deleted.
Webshots is still (somehow) home to over 690 million photos (I know, crazy, right?) but it’s becoming a different company at the end of this year. Webshots will now be Smile — a photo-sharing site that pulls together your pictures from other social networks — and will delete everybody’s old Webshots pictures if they don’t convert their old Webshots account into a Smile account. If you don’t get a new Smile account, all your old pictures are going to be deleted. It’s the digital equivalent of losing all your old pictures in shoeboxes because a fire burned down your house.
BuzzFeed FWD calls these changes in social networks — Friendster becoming a video game service, Myspace streaming music and now Webshots no longer hosting its pictures — as the next stage of internet linkrot. Which is true. Sure uploading pictures to photo services on the cloud sounds good and great but what happens when that photo service fails or something new takes over? Unlike actual printed photographs, we’re all just at the mercy of a company’s success. [BuzzFeed FWD]