Reddit launches image uploads, ditching alliance with Imgur

Reddit never let you upload images, until now. That could dismantle Reddit’s informal alliance with image-sharing community Imgur. That’s where Redditors would typically post their images or GIFs and then share the links on Reddit.

The image uploading feature begins rolling out today with 50 Reddit communities, including Art, Aww, Food, Funny, Gifs and EarthPorn (pretty nature pics). An eventual site-wide release is Reddit’s plan. The feature should make Reddit simpler and faster to use, and easier for newbies to figure out.

Reddit product team member Andy announced the feature, writing, “For a long time, other image hosting services have been an integral part of how content is shared on Reddit — we’re grateful to those teams, but are looking forward to bringing you a more seamless experience with this new feature.”

7bc6c7fe766c43468c8e6d5d361d0309Reddit will accept images up to 20MB and GIFs up to 100MB, compared to the 20MB image and 200MB GIF limits on Imgur. It will apply its standard content policy, disallowing images that are illegal, involuntary pornography (like revenge porn or hacks), encourage or incite violence, are threats or harassment, expose confidential personal information, impersonate people or are spam.

When I asked the company about the new feature and its standing with Imgur, Reddit wrote in a statement:

“Reddit is excited to begin rolling out a more seamless content uploading experience for users with in-house image hosting.

For many years, Imgur has been an integral part of Reddit — we are grateful to them for enabling our users to share the things they love and have a richer content experience. At this time, the Reddit community can still choose to use Imgur or other sites for image hosting.”

The launch could help Reddit boost traffic in a critical year, following a tumultuous 2015 marked by trouble with its content policies clashing with offensive subcultures it hosts, and a community staffer firing leading to a mutiny by Reddit moderators who blacked-out parts of the site.

Reddit is the 9th largest site by traffic in the U.S. according to Alexa, while Imgur is 16th. They’ve long been thought of as sister sites, with Reddit focusing on links and text debates, while Imgur centered around entertaining images and a supportive, positive community. Users frequently cross-link between the sites, using Imgur links to effectively share image posts and comments on Reddit, and Reddit links to point people to deeper discussions of content.

Reddit images could soak up page views that lead to more browsing of the site, which it monetizes with native ads. Meanwhile, Imgur could miss out on page views and ad revenue.

Reddit ImgurSome Redditors have griped about Imgur’s usefulness as a strict image host since it ramped up advertising after raising $40 million two years ago from Andreessen Horowitz and Reddit itself. In some cases on mobile, Imgur was redirecting users from direct links for an image file it hosts that shows up on a blank page to the Imgur community site version of the image, which can be accompanied by traditional sidebar banner ads.

When asked about the fracturing of their ad hoc partnership, Imgur provided this statement:

“This isn’t a surprise. Tools for uploading images are an expected part of any platform these days.

While Imgur started as a simple image-sharing service, it’s evolved beyond that and is now a massive community of people sharing and discovering the most awesome images from all around the internet. We’re super focused on our mission to surface up the world’s most entertaining content and making Imgur the best visual community in the world.
That said, nothing will change for Reddit users who would like to use Imgur to share their images on Reddit.”
With the addition of images, Reddit will have to do a lot more work to enforce its content policy. Before, it could always claim that offensive images like nude photos of celebrity Jennifer Lawrence that were distributed through its site were hosted elsewhere. Now, if it doesn’t police the uploads, more of the disgust and anger could fall on Reddit.