History In Pictures Generates Good Buzz And Bad

I’m not the world’s biggest Twitter fan, mostly because it bugs me to struggle through short sentences of gibberish (RT, #, @, OMG!) to get to some nugget of brilliance like "ROTFLMAO!" or "YOLO!" But @HistoryInPics just might make me check in with my feed a little more often. Run by two teenagers (one from Australia and one from Hawaii, who met online via YouTube), the project is designed to deliver historical photographs with simple descriptions, and they’ve garnered almost a million followers in just over six months. At first I thought that was the crux of the story: a nonprofit Twitter account run by someone who simply loves history and photography. But as is so often the case, the real story comes when you dig a little deeper. The two young teens who run the site are practically savants when it comes to generating tens of thousands of page views every day from a variety of Twitter feeds, which they then sell. That means they generate revenue. Can you guess where this is going? Right: they don’t pay photographers whose work they use, much less attribute their photos. (Don’t get me started on attribution. I’m getting sick and tired of photos that aren’t even credited, much less paid. More on that some other time, I’m sure.) Anyway, their usage without payment policy has got a whole lot of people really upset. This article at the Atlantic breaks it down in detail, and the comments that follow are equal parts entertaining and informative. Just watch out for the rants.


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