This is a question that has been spinning around my head for some months as there are many options depending of the Twitter client you use, like the official, and some other free 3rd party services to Host images, most of them are dedicated Social networks of images that let you share to Twitter, some other are Dropbox like services (paid / free*) that let you share images on a certain way, there are and some PHP options around the web that you can mount on your hosting.
*Free with some restrictions.
Twitter’s official Image Hosting
I personally don’t like Twitter’s pic.twitter.com which started working back in 2011 in partnership with Photobucket, thru the months there were some changes and now Twitter has it’s own storing service that I continue not liking so far, there’s a lot that to be done because it lacks of control over your images as they remain there floating tied to your tweets history.
The only way you can get to your images is by visiting your media grid if you want to see or delete old images for any reason you may have, it also lacks of statistics at least to know how many views got your image as some other services do (some of us like that), and on the other hand Twitter has clear Terms of Service where they claim that “your photos are yours”.
Third Party Image Hosting services
To use a third party Image Hosting you may need to have a 3rd party Twitter Client like Tweetbot or Twiterlator that support uploading images into other services besides the official like: mobypicture, Lockerz, twitpic, yfrog, etc. or using their own Apps to share from there.
What I didn’t like from them is that all come with Ads (as free hosting services survive of that, and some times of the ownership of your media), I also didn’t like to be part of another social network of images, and over all to keep the ownership of the content I upload as in some cases we don’t read the tricky language on ‘Terms of Service’ that usually make you think that “you own your photos” but not in the way you may think (read Instagram’s case), I guess yfrog and mobypicture are the only ones that clearly specify that your content belongs to you, I started using them after reading this article: Which Twitter Image Host is the best for your rights?.
Social Networks that share images to Twitter
There are two main communities that are doing it well on their own that let you share to Twitter, one is Instagram and the other is flickr both need to be used from their own Apps.
After Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 many things changed with the relationship with Twitter where most of its content is Re-shared, many people like it because of the filters, I use it for 20 photos but never felt at home, and when the Terms of Service changed I felt it was time to quit. Instagram also quit serving or displaying the Twitter Cards that let you preview images embedded at tweets.
Flickr is a powerful and big community of photography owned by Yahoo! that entered the race of Photo Apps with filters before it was to late, they needed to renew the App for gaining more users as most of them were uploading photos from their Smartphones. It is a good option, they use Creative Commons, so you can decide how to protect your images.
File sharing services (that could work as Image Hosting services)
They are like Dropbox basically, two of the most famous around are AppCloud and Droplr, they are paid services for quickly sharing files between coders and designers, they both have free services that can be used with certain limitations like on it’s free version Droplr has Ads, or limits uploads of 25Mb, and a total of 1GB of storage on the cloud while Cloud App lets you upload 10 files per day with a 25Mb limit per file, with no limit on the cloud storage so far. Both can be set up to be your Twitter image hosting, they have their own short links respectively d.pr and cl.ly.
*Please read the following article if you are interested on any of this two Cloud storage services: CloudApp versus Droplr: Which Should You Choose?
I personally gave it a chance and tried CloudApp for a while, I set it up at Tweetbot for iOS as my image hosting service, it has a counter to let you know how many visits the upload has, I didn’t like the way it shares videos as they appear as files that need to be downloaded to play, and won’t play directly at the given page. They also claim that if they notice out of ordinary traffic on any of your files, they might make it not available for a while to protect their bandwidth.
Own Hosted Image Services
I tried few and is worth to talk of the following, one is Colugo (“a simple PHP script that allows you to host your tweeted images using Tweetie 2 for iPhone on your own hosting service.”) You can find it at GitHub but is no longer under development https://github.com/evansims/colugo.
I configured and test it, I felt it was OK.
And why not using WordPress?, there are many tutorials to do it that way, check the following blogs entrances I found about it:
- Twitter Image Host for WordPress.
- Twitter Image Host 2.
- How To Host Twitter Images On Your Own WordPress Website.
- The benefits and costs of running your own Twitter photo server.
After trying them all, none was what I looked for, I wanted more control over some features:
- No Ads (or my Ads).
- I want to own my own photos (Terms of Service/Creative Commons).
- Have detailed Stats / Analytics.
- Watermarking on my images.
- Subdomain pic.domain.com
- Own URL shorting service.
I finally choose to go with a hosted WordPress after reading about and trying it out, and after two weeks of working with it I’m liking it so far as my main Twitter image hosting service so I’ll be writing my experience and how to set it up soon, so come back later. I’ll update the post link here.
Update – September 16, 2014
I recently moved back to Twitter’s images official service, there were some reasons that made me take that decision.
- Maintenance (keeping updates and upgrading WordPress)
- Impact (Twitter images seem to get to more people as they are visible on a tweet)
- Now there are Analytics for Twitter
I found a watermark iOS App for signing the photos I want to copyright with my user name and year to prevent others uploading it and pretend it’s another situation was taken somewhere else.