Sometime around 10:30 pm PST tonight, MySpace began blocking videos embedded on MySpace pages that originate from Photobucket. This is a major blackout, affecting millions of embedded videos. Photobucket images and slideshows are not affected. Videos from competitors like YouTube are still working fine.
As with previous outages, embedded videos work fine until the user makes any edit to their profile. At that time, links to Photobucket are automatically replaced with “…” or removed, causing the embed to fail.
Photobucket has north of 40 million registered users.
This is turning into a habit for MySpace, which usually claims bugs, security issues or terms of service violations were the cause of a shut down. In January MySpace mysteriously shut down all Flash widgets on the site for 2.5 hours. An Imeem blockade came next. Vidilife, Stickam and Revver have been permanently banned.
Today’s shutdown of Photobucket comes suspiciously close to news that Photobucket is up for sale (Fox, MySpace’s parent company, was notoriously rumored to be furious when YouTube sold to Google). It seems that just when a company starts to break out from the pack, MySpace finds a security breach and shuts them down. Even though MySpace has flat out denied it to us, it is our belief that these blockages are meant to send a clear message to widget companies - don’t forget that MySpace is in charge.
More as this develops. I have a request for comment into MySpace PR, but I don’t expect to hear back from them until the morning.
Update: see The Photobucket blog for more details (read the comments to that post - Photobucket users are really angry.
Update: Photobucket CEO Alex Welch just sent me the following email:
Tonight MySpace took the decision to prevent Photobucket users from posting
certain types of media to their MySpace pages.
This action by MySpace means that millions of pieces of content created by
our users may no longer be available on MySpace. This content represents
hundreds of thousand hours of effort on the part of our users – hours
invested using the editing, remixing and management tools and features
available only on Photobucket. Conservative estimates put one in every two
page views on MySpace containing content from Photobucket users. This step
will have a drastic affect on the usability and appeal of MySpace.
More importantly, by limiting the ability of its users to personalize their
pages with content from any source, MySpace, is contradicting the very ethos
of personal and social media. MySpace became successful because of the
creativity of its users and because it offered a forum for self-expression.
By severely restricting this freedom, MySpace is showing that it considers
its users a commodity which it can treat as it sees fit.
Faced with the prospect of recreating their content using only the limited
resources available on MySpace, we believe users will vote with their feet
(and their keyboards) and turn instead to the other sites that Photobucket
links to on a daily basis. Photobucket users link to 300,000 different Web
sites every day from their Photobucket albums – MySpace is just one of those
sites. This action by MySpace in no way affects Photobucket albums. The
content remains available in user albums for linking to other Web sites,
discussion boards, forums, e-commerce sites and blogs.
At Photobucket, we’ve seen a steady and growing trend by users towards
linking to a range of social networks – not just MySpace. If MySpace
persists in blocking Photobucket and other personal media sites, users will
transfer their loyalties to a combination of these networks. Photobucket’s
business model is built on allowing users to support multiple identities by
providing a central resource for creating, enhancing, managing and sharing
their content. Our business is in no way dependent on being able to link to
We believe this action by MySpace is a retrograde step in the evolution of
the Web and an unacceptable attempt to limit the freedom of the very people
who are its lifeblood – its users.