For years, Imgur has made sharing photos and GIFs on the internet as easy as uploading a file — you don't even need an account to use it. Now the website has announced a change to its Terms of Service that could potentially erase years of internet history. Starting on May 15th, Imgur will be deleting "old, unused, and inactive content" that's not tied to a user account, so plenty of images posted on random websites online could disappear overnight. In addition, the service will be removing "nudity, pornography and sexually explicit content" even if they were uploaded by someone with an account.
Imgur has long been the go-to service for people uploading explicit content meant for sharing on NSFW subreddits, since Reddit itself prohibits direct uploads of explicit images. Back in 2019, the photo-sharing website stopped displaying NSFW Imgur subsections associated with subreddits. However, it didn't delete any images and still allowed users to upload pornographic content, as long as they choose the "hidden" privacy status. Apparently, this has caused confusion and frustration on what is and isn't allowed on the hosting service. By banning explicit images completely, Imgur said it could address the risks they pose to its business and protect the company's future.
The website will use automated detection alongside human moderators to find content to be deleted under the new rules. It will not be issuing warnings or suspensions for automated flags, but it will warn users if they try to upload anything that violates its updated Terms of Service. "Artistic nudity" is still allowed under the new rules, but they might get flagged by the website's automated detection tool that's still being calibrated. Bottom line is that, those who want to save viral images and other pieces of internet history may want to download them before they disappear. And those using Imgur to post photos on /r/gonewild may want to find an alternative service soon.