Flickr has been acquired by SmugMug, and the official date for the switchover is looming. Here is why now might be the time to back up everything, reach out to all your followers, and maybe think about deleting your account forever.
This has nothing to do with SmugMug itself, but more to do with the uncertainty that comes when any company is bought by another. It's very unlikely that the terms and conditions, privacy policies, security measures, and planned trajectory will match up identically with the original company you first signed up with. In the case of SmugMug, I'm sure once they take over, those policies will be better than any of the more recent owners that Flickr has had. I do, however, think that in light of recent data scandals from the likes of Facebook, we all have become a little more cautious about the amount of data we give away to these big companies as we've also grown more skeptical about the true intentions of any business move.
It's for these reasons (and because I hardly use Flickr these days) I have decided to back up all my pictures from the site and delete my account permanently before the deadline of May 25, 2018. This is the moment when Flickr accounts and their data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug's terms and privacy policies instead. I actually think that SmugMug may be grateful for users such as myself who have no intention of ever using their services, as it might just help save them some space on their servers. One report from a few years back had Flickr down as having shared more than 10 billion images on the site, which means SmugMug is going to be taking over quite a bit of data.
Even if you are intending to continue with Flickr, now would still be a good time to consider backing everything up from the site while it's still fairly easy to do. All places online are susceptible to data loss, file corruption, and security breaches; and although I'm sure SmugMug has no plans to delete your account any time soon, why not take this moment to make sure you have copies of everything that you have on there.
Downloading All Your Work From Flickr
If you try to download your images according to the several guides I read before writing this article, you'll still be there trying to download everything this time next year. Instead of navigating to the camera roll and painfully clicking on each and every month to download images from those months, I have found a much easier way.
Click on "You" in the menu bar and then select "Organize," where you will be taken to the "Batch Organize" tab.
Make sure "All Your Content" is selected from the drop-down menu in the bottom left-hand corner and then, just below that, you will see a text button which says, "Select All". After pressing this, you should see all the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen become highlighted pink.
Next, click on "Add to album" and select "New album" from the drop-down menu in the center of the screen.
Give your album a name and hit "Save."
Once you have everything in an album, it's just a matter of navigating to the particular album page by clicking on "You" and then down to "Albums."
Here, in the middle of the page, you will see a download button which you should click on.
Flickr will then ask you if you would like them to zip everything up and send you a download link via their built-in messaging system, FlickrMail. I found that my download link came almost instantly, although I'm guessing this may vary depending on the size of your file and the number of requests the site is currently dealing with.
Deleting Your Flickr Account
Before you delete your account, it might be worth making one final post on the site telling anyone who follows you that you are deleting your account in the next few days. If you leave a list of alternative ways for people to stay in touch with you in the description, you'll hopefully find that some of them will come find you on those other channels.
Once you have decided it's time to call it quits on Flickr and are happy everything is backed up, it will only take a minute to close your account for good. Click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of any Flickr page and press on "Settings."
The next page which loads is the Account Settings page where you will see in the Account section the option to "delete your Flickr account."
Flickr makes it very clear that what you are about to do is final and irreversible. If you are happy to delete your account at this stage, all you need to do is press the "Ok - Next" button at the bottom of the screen, where you will be asked to enter your password to complete the process. If you have followed these steps correctly, you will now no longer have a Flickr account.
I will actually be sad to see my Flickr account go after having one for the last 12 years, but for me, the time to close my account is well overdue. I'm sure it will feel quite liberating to have one less social media platform to worry about. While some SEO experts may think I am throwing away good backlinks by permanently removing my profile off the site, I personally would rather have images from more up-to-date and relevant sources showing up at the top of image search results and website listings. Only time will tell if my fairly decent SEO suffers as a result.
I will close in a similarly cautious vein to how I began by saying that I struggle to see how any company can purchase another company (for what must have been a sizable amount) without planning to make money from it at some point. While those financial intentions are more than acceptable, I'd rather not stick around continuing to not use the platform to maybe one day receive an email informing me of some new mandatory price plan rolling in. I'd also rather not hear in a few years' time about another possible sale of Flickr to some new owners whose intentions are less than favorable. Like many other people, I'm trying to declutter my digital life; and for that reason, now feels like a good time for me to call it a day. Thanks for all the memories Flickr. It's been a blast.
What do you make of SmugMug buying Flickr? Do you think I am doing the right thing by deciding to delete my account? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Lead image by Moose Photos via Pexels.