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Imgur [url text]
Type Webservice
Launch Date 2003
Status Active
Product Line Image Sharing Platform
Platform Web Browser

Imgur is a free emerging photo-sharing website used to share pictures with friends and also for posting images on message boards and blogs. It was founded and launched by Alan Schaaf in February of 2009. Imgur provides an anonymous uploading feature similar to Reddit and Digg. The only stored information from uploading anonymously is the user's IP address for legal reasons. Users are also provided with the opportunity to request the removal of copyrighted material, harassment, spam, gore, pornography.[1] The unofficial mascot for Imgur is the imguraffe, which is a portmanteau of the words "Imgur" and "giraffe."[2] Because of the anonymous uploading feature, there exists ethical concerns over how Imgur should deal with breaches to their rules, namely the uploading of copyrighted works or illegal images, like child pornography.


Imgur was launched on February 23, 2009 in Athens, Ohio by Alan Schaaf, an undergraduate computer science student from Ohio University. Because he was unimpressed by Reddit, Schaaf created Imgur, giving it a simple interface with unique image uploading and editing characteristics to counter "bloated, confusing and annoying" interface designs on other file-sharing websites.[3] In 2011, Imgur relocated to San Francisco, California. In its first month, Imgur had about 93,000 page views and now has over 150 million monthly page views, with over 12 million image uploads. In January 2012, Imgur was awarded TechCrunch's Best Bootstrapped Startup Award.[4]

Imgur is used to share jokes, ideas, and images. Many websites, such as Reddit, use Imgur as their primary image hosting website, giving Imgur the wide recognition among the Reddit users as the standard image sharing site. Imgur has also overtaken other hosting sites, such as Tinypic, and variety of other social networking sites.[5]


Imgur provides a plethora of features that encourage user interactivity and simplicity in engagement. New features are consistently released to accommodate user needs and trends.


To simplify the process of exploring for content, Imgur introduced the Topics feature in February 2015. This feature enables users to discover images and stories that are related to their particular interests, while maintaining the "serendipity" that defines the site. With the help of testing and community feedback, Imgur originally settled on 9 topics, but are open to updating and adding new topics over time. The initial set of topics was formulated based on the landscape of user created tags that stood out in the months prior to the feature's release. Imgur's logic was to create Topics that were comprehensive enough to capture the vast range of stories found on Imgur, while keeping it small enough to be manageable. With the Topics feature, tags are no longer necessary, but can used to potentially increase audience size.[6]

Mobile App

Imgur's mobile application was introduced to iOS in March of 2015, with the Android version emerging in the following month. Instead of turning to a third-party, Imgur decided to build the mobile application from scratch to cater to the experience they believed their users were experiencing. The mobile app provides similar functionalities to the web version in a different layout, including the ability to comment and favorite posts. The app utilizes swipe-based interaction to scroll through the site's multitude of images and GIFs. Users swipe horizontally to move from post to post and can discover content using two settings on the main screen, "Popular" and "Newest". Users also have the option to surface content using the "Random" and "User sub" tabs.[7]


Within the website is the public gallery where it is a collection of the most viral images that have been posted within in the website. It is determined through an algorithm that takes into account views, shares, and votes based off time. Unlike private account uploads, all the images added to the public gallery are searchable by title. in addition, members of the site, "Imgurians," are able to vote and comment on the images, allowing them to earn reputation points and trophies. Pictures on the site are often also found on other social media sites such as Facebook and Reddit.

Meme Generator

On June 26, 2013 Imgur introduced the Meme Generator, a template that provides users the ability to create, share, and save memes all on the Imgur platform. The Memes Gallery allows users to browse viral memes and remixed memes created by other users, in addition to creating new memes from scratch. Users created memes can be titled and shared in the public Memes Gallery.[8]

Video to GIF

With the rise of GIFs as a primary form of self-expression, Imgur decided to release the Video to GIF function in January 2015 that allows users to discover and create GIFs. Users can link URLs directly to the Imgur website to create their own GIFs. The process requires the user to simply copy and paste the URL of the video (size limit of 1G) into the input section, indicate the starting point, then drag to adjust the total runtime and create text. Video to GIF is only available to users logged in through the web application. The release of the mobile-compatible version has yet to announced.[9]


Imgur has an established trophy system that encourages user contributions to the site. Trophies are awarded to all users based on positive activity and interactions, but no exact qualifications are advertised to users. A majority of trophies are awarded automatically once certain actions are completed; however, a select few trophies are awarded by Imgur staff on a totally subjective basis. Examples of staff awarded trophies include: "Staff Pick" (post that inspired the Imgur team), "Fame and Fortune" (users who have made a name for themselves), and "Lucky Winner" (for winning an Imgur contest). Automatically awarded trophies range from the Top Comment of the Day, Month, Year to something as simple as downloading the mobile app. The Imgur team often releases special trophies for events such as Camp Imgur, April Fool's, and Imgur's birthday.[10]

Usage and Statistics

Imgur currently has an average of 15,000 views per hour, with an average of over 360,000 images uploaded per day.[11]

Traffic statistics (taken on 16 September 2012)
# Per day Per week Per month
Images uploaded 773,244 4,965,114 23,343,059
Image views 978,466,914 6,469,541,225 36,221,749,871
Average image size 208.18 KB 199.15 KB 204.99 KB
Bandwidth used 119.63 TB 879.25 TB 4.39 PB



It has been reported that Irish arm of telecom has begun to censor Imgur along with other social networking sites like Reddit because of a lack of accountability and transparency. A three strikes policy, where only a simple accusation would be required to give a strike, has been implemented.[13]

Many websites and message boards prohibit the use of Imgur links due to their allegiance to other image hosting/sharing websites. These prohibitions are not usually due to the content that is displayed on Imgur, as most offensive images are removed.

Ethical Implications


NSFW, not safe for work, is a common phrase used on imgur to give the user a warning that the content they are able to see may not be suitable for the conditions they're currently viewing in. Many users enjoy imgur during downtime at work and so may might susceptible to punishment if caught browsing something that might be racist, too sexy, or ill humored for the workplace. It is common for NSFW content that isn't labelled appropriately to be downvoted by the community, so it may not affect others.

Strike Policy

The strike policy on Imgur also contains ethical implications. Users are issued strikes for any accusations against them, whether the image posted is inappropriate or not. This allows users to accuse others simply for the sake of griefing.


Copyright issues are another ethical concern, as there is the potential for copyrighted material to be uploaded by unauthorized parties. Although the website has policies and technology to help remove copyrighted materials, with over 360,000 images uploaded daily, it is easy for some copyrighted material to slip through the cracks. Contributing to this problem is the fact that many images found on Imgur can also be found elsewhere on the web without giving proper credit. Reddit, which is another popular social news site, often has very similar image content to that of Imgur. It is hard enough to determine whether the content orginated from a certain site, let alone a certain user. Imgur requests that users not upload pictures that they know are copyrighted; however this policy is widely abused as people often share images and pictures on the internet that are not their own. Imgur does explicitly state what violations of Intellectual Property are and guidelines on claimed copyright infringement.[14]


It's not a given that anonymous communities that disconnect people from their real-life identities will foster goodwill and harmony. Compared to the Internet as a whole and other anonymous communities such as Reddit, Imgur has done a sufficient job maintaining a surprisingly peaceful community. Because Imgur allows users to contribute images anonymously, users feel a heightened sense of freedom and comfort, which can lead to the uploading of inappropriate images. The site bans nudity, porn, hate speech, and members tend to down-vote troll-like comments until they are erased. By diminishing worries and restrictions concerning the protection one's personal brand, the site hopes the anonymity function of usernames stimulates more authenticity amongst its users.[15]


Privacy can also be an ethical concern, since images uploaded to Imgur can be shared. It is stated under the site's Terms of Service that "you can upload images anonymously and share them online with only the people you choose to share them with. If you make them publicly available, they may be featured in the gallery. This means that if you upload an image to share with your friend, only your friend will be able to access it online. However, if you share an image with Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, etc, then it may end up in the gallery."[14] A further concern exists in exif data present in most photos taken with modern cameras. Because this data can range from time taken to GPS locations of the photo, Imgur strips the photos of this data to protect the privacy of those unaware of exif data's existence.[16]


  1. Imgur Site: Removal Request
  2. Introducing the Imguraffe
  3. My Gift to Reddit: I created an image hosting service that doesn't suck. What do you think?
  4. [1]
  5. Interview with Alan Schaaf by
  6. Introduction of the Topics Feature
  7. Imgur Mobile App
  8. Meme Generator
  9. Video to GIF
  10. Trophies
  11. Imgur Stats
  12. Imgur Wiki Page
  13. MCVUK: O2 Ireland begins web censoring
  14. 14.0 14.1 Imgur Terms of Service
  15. "How Imgur Became an Image Sharing Meme Generating Megacommunity"
  16. Where is the exif data

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