TwitPic photo archive saved by Twitter in last-minute deal

Twitter in browser

The original image-sharing service for Twitter has secured a last-minute deal with the social network, ensuring that all 800m photos on the site will stay online.

TwitPic, founded in February 2008 as a site for tweeters to share images before the functionality was built into the service itself, will hand over its domain and entire photo archive to Twitter, ensuring that old links to TwitPic continue to serve photos “for the time being”.

But the service itself will still shut down, and existing users will have to make the switch to Twitter’s own image-sharing service, if they haven’t already.

Explaining the decision, Twitpic’s founder Noah Everett said: “Twitter shares our goal of protecting our users and this data. Also, since Twitpic’s user base consists of Twitter users, it makes sense to keep this data with Twitter.”

“This will be my final chapter with Twitpic, and again I want to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of your photo sharing memories for nearly seven years. It has been an honour.”

Twitpic’s early success as the de facto image service for Twitter led to it being the host of a number of the social network’s most famous viral images. Perhaps the most important for both sites was Jānis Krūms’ picture of the crashed US Airways Flight 1549, which made an emergency landing in the Hudson river in 2009 after a bird strike took out both engines.

Five years on, many peg the “Miracle on the Hudson” as the moment Twitter proved its worth as a news-gathering service, with pictures like Krūms’ and on-the-ground testimonials spreading the story far and wide long before the traditional media had arrived on the scene.

But despite the site’s historical importance, it came a hair’s breadth from destroying the entire archive. In September, Everett announced that Twitpic would have to close down entirely due to a trademark dispute with Twitter.

“A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API,” he wrote at the time. “This came as a shock to us as Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.”

Some were left wondering why Twitpic didn’t simply change its name in response to Twitter’s demands. That lead to speculation that the squabble over the name was a convenient smokescreen for a company struggling to stay afloat after Twitter destroyed its business model by offering photo-sharing built in to the service.

Other sites that offered image-sharing services in the early days of Twitter are still around, but with markedly different business models. Yfrog pivoted to become a full-blown photo sharing network, while Instagram fought Twitter on its own terms, growing to rival Twitter in size – before being bought by Facebook for $1bn in 2012.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Monday 27th October 2014 13.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010