What would happen if you lost all of your family’s photos, tomorrow? Millions of Americans trust the cloud to save all of their family moments. But, what if one day, they vanished? In 2006, Pew reported that 57% of teens create their content. Like a lot of people my age, I was in a band. We played and recorded music which we then uploaded to Myspace. At the time, it was the most popular social networking website around. It had overtaken Friendster, which had previously caught up to makeoutclub.com, a site for “…for indierockers, hardcore kids, record collectors, artists, bloggers, and hopeless romantics.”*. It was inconceivable that there could be another social-networking site that would overtake it. While there must be a CD of that music somewhere in my parent’s house, it has completely disappeared from the internet. That’s basically what link rot is.
A 2014 Harvard Law School study looks at the legal implications of Internet link decay, and finds reasons for alarm. The authors, Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, determined that approximately 50% of the URLs in U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the original information.
A website doesn’t necessarily have to go out of business, either. Changes in terms of service could cancel or block your account. For example, the user profiles of unsuspecting companies that operated innocuously on Facebook as a ‘personal page’ have been increasingly shut down for violating the Terms of Service. Unlike the other fake profiles which people can purchase on Fiverr to inflate likes, these profiles were harmless and promoted groups or small businesses. And, had been established for years. From one day to the next, you could lose years of work. (Facebook’s War Continues Against Fake Profiles and Bots)
What’s happening to SoundCloud?
“SoundCloud’s repository of audio is a petabyte of data — one million gigabytes — and would cost $1.5 million to $2 million to host for the foreseeable future.” (NyMag)
Basically, SoundCloud is broke. They recently laid off most of their staff. They have enough money to last them a few months. Even for a company that has a huge base of people supporting it, they don’t make money. Or rather, they make very little. Do you have music up on your SoundCloud account? Is there music that you like on SoundCloud? I would suggest purchasing their music and backing up your own.
How does this affect me?
It affects you because if you have digital content that only exists online, it may disappear one day. Remember to:
- Save cell phone pictures to your computer when you run out of space on your phone, instead of uploading them to the cloud.
- Buy an external hard drive and backup your photos and videos.
- Print out photos
- Put your music on CDs
- Transfer your VHS tapes to DVD with our Elogato video capture hardware (Did you know we have fishing poles, bike locks, projectors and portable DVD players to borrow, too?)
*Makeoutclub is featured in the YA Novel This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales.