American image hosting website Photobucket made headlines earlier this week and found itself amidst a crisis when it was revealed that thousands of images embedded by its users on third-party websites had been removed.
Years' worth of images on forums, blogs and popular websites such as Amazon and Ebay disappeared in the blink of an eye, replaced with placeholder images asking users to update their accounts.
The reason? A quickly swept-under-the-carpet change to the popular service's terms and conditions that has affected users with a free account. Under the new terms and conditions, Photobucket now requires a $399 (£309) annual fee for "third party hosting"... and the backlash has been extraordinary.
Here are the top stories being show today on Google UK for the search term 'Photobucket':
Furthermore, half of the organically returned search results on page one are negative:
Photobucket hasn't exactly been forthcoming with its response to the backlash either:
This has left users feeling angry and upset with the lack of communication and what they feel is a 'ransom demand':
The message here is simple. Photobucket is totally allowed to make changes to its service, even if it does feel like a move based on financial gain at the expense of its existing customers.
Photobucket DID publish a brief note in late June advising users to take a look at some updated terms and conditions, but special attention wasn't drawn to this drastic change.
With more than 100 million customers hosting 15 billion images, you'd think the company would want to keep people happy.
Whether you have 100 million customers or just 100, it's important to always communicate with them clearly. One mistake could lead to a backlash that could completely destroy your online reputation.
Read the below article for our tips when managing a crisis.