Picapp Takes Over

After the WordPress.com dust-up with Picapp in November last year about the change in Picapp’s shortcode implementation, WordPress.com and Picapp separately announced that the Picapp shortcode would no longer be supported by either party on new posts. Previously embeded Picapp images would be available for as long as Picapp will allow them, announced Ryan Markel, WordPress.com Happiness Engineer, in the Support forums. Picapp’s CEO and co-founder, Eyal Gura, said in an email sent to registered Picapp users that they “intend to keep supporting the delivery of the already-published images to the publishers that meet our TOS, and by doing so to provide as much continuity as possible.”

You might remember when the Picapp hit the fan, a certain prominent blogger discovered that Picapp had taken over every image on the front page of her self-hosted WordPress blog and linked them to Picapp’s lightbox galleries, even though neither she nor her webmaster had installed Picapp’s widget on her site. This behavior prevented her from crediting the source of her images. Picapp quickly backpeddled and apparently adjusted something on their side to end this behavior. At that time, this behavior was not evident on WordPress.com blogs.

To my complete astonishment, while recently browsing through my archives here at WordPress.com, I discovered that Picapp’s lightbox image gallery has since taken over images on any archive or category page where both full posts appear and Picapp embeds and non-Picapp images share the same page. (This behavior does not occur on single posts viewed individually nor on themes where archive/category posts are excerpted or truncated.)

Where I could, I resized my own images to below the 250 pixel width that triggers this lightbox behavior. However, I couldn’t do the same for images linked to their original source. Needless to say, this behavior is still not acceptable. As raincoaster pointed out, it interferes with crediting image source and could lead to a ToS breach on some sites, such as flickr.

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As a last effort I tried to log in to my Picapp account to see if I could adjust my site settings, but discovered that my account no longer existed. After registering again, my activation email arrived and included two links: one to turn all my images into Picapp galleries and one to turn only previous Picapp embeds into their lightbox galleries. Obviously, I picked the second link. In spite of that, it took some additional tinkering of my site settings in my Picapp dashboard before I was finally able to turn off the Picapp lightbox behavior on non-Picapp images on my site. As was pointed out in my previous post on Picapp, the default behavior should be to limit the lightbox gallery behavior to only Picapp embeds. WordPress.com users should not have to register and log in on Picapp in order to control image behavior on their WordPress.com site. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.

Picapp continues to have an odd blind spot when it comes to understanding bloggers’ rights to control how their content is used and seems to be almost clueless as to how their default “takeover” of non-Picapp images irritates their potential user base. This is doubly true for those WordPress.com bloggers (16 17 million and growing) who already have or may have self-hosted blogs in the future and are looking to monetize their sites. The only thing these users will remember is their previous Picapp experience.

(Editor’s note: If you have not previously used Picapp image embeds on your WordPress.com site, the above does not apply to you.)

Better Shared!