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Type of site
photo/ video sharing and media networking
Available inEnglish
Brazilian Portuguese
Chinese (simplified)
OwnerFotki, Inc
Created byFotki, Inc
Launched1998; 26 years ago (1998)
Current statusActive

Fotki is a digital photo sharing, video sharing and media social network website and web service suite; it is one of the world's largest social networking sites.[1] As an image hosting service, Fotki licenses photo-sharing software for global companies such as Telecom Italia,, Sears, Mark Travel,, and, among others.[2]

As of January 2011, Fotki claimed to have over 1 million 600 thousand registered members from 241 countries and hosted over a billion digital images.[3] It has been ranked in the 1400s in popularity by Alexa.[citation needed]

Originally offering free accounts, Fotki ceased offering free accounts in 2015.[4]


Founding as freeware

Fotki was founded in 1998 by Katrin Lilleoks and Dmitri Don[5] (who became President) to store and share photos and communicate with others around the world. The name is derived from colloquial terms for photography in several Slavic languages.[citation needed] It was initially used heavily in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia, later becoming registered in the United States.[5]

In 2001, the commercial version was launched. In 2003, Fotki became a registered trade mark in the United States.[citation needed]

In 2007, was recognized by CNET as one of the best Web 2.0 applications.[6][2] In 2008, founder Dmitri Don described it as a photo-sharing, photo-printing, photo-selling and blogging website.[2] Daily figures, according to Don, included half a million unique daily visitors.[2] The company remained based in Tallinn, Estonia, with annual turnover of over $50 billion on its licensed or hosted services. Pavel Merdin oversaw the development team. In 2008, Fotki moved its office in the United States from New York to California.[2] Telecom Italia and both had web portals using the Fotki photo engine.[2]

In 2011, Fotki stated it had over a million users and a billion images, and was registered in the United States.[5] Features also included printing services, e-commerce photo sales with Fotki taking a 15% commission, and "guestbook facilities".[5] In 2011, a free account had 50 mb of storage, with another 10 mb added monthly.[5]

In June 2012 paid members with 5-year unlimited storage accounts received message that they no longer have access to the original images unless they paid extra fees.[7] In August 2015, all free members received a message to upgrade to a paid service. Fotki stated they could no longer support free members since they were doing away with ads.[failed verification][4] On October 1, 2015 all free members accounts were deleted.

In Jun 2018, an email from to one of the members stated "In order to keep quality of our service we remove old unused accounts. We've noticed that you didn't use your account at for a year. That's why your account is queued to be deleted in 2 days". There is no option to reactivate account without paying for the service.[citation needed]



The primary purpose of the site, in 2002, was to allow and facilitate the process of sharing digital photos online.[8] To that end, users can transfer an image file from a local device to Fotki's server using a variety of tools, where the file can be stored and downloaded by other users.[citation needed]


Owners of Premium, Trial and Free Unlimited accounts get unlimited storage space. Free accounts have a space limit of 3000 MB plus the option to get an additional 200 MB every month.[citation needed]


Fotki users can organize their photos and videos into a structure by grouping albums into folders, creating sub-folders, moving albums between folders, moving sub-folders between folders, moving and copying photos/videos between albums. Photos, albums and folders can be rearranged.[citation needed]

Users are also encouraged to add tags to their photos so they can be found in search.[citation needed]

Management tools

When logged in, Fotki users have access to management tools which allow editing, moving or deleting their content, changing properties of the content, changing account settings and restricting access to the content if needed.[citation needed]


By default, all content created in the "Public Home" is available to all viewers. No registration is required to access the public content.[9] To restrict access to their content, Fotki users can use several security options, such as passwords for albums and folders, hidden albums, private section, shared folders, protection from right-click copying, restriction to view originals and to order prints. Fotki also allows for XML-based RSS[10][11] and Atom feeds, as well as external linking and sending invites to view content.[citation needed]

Customization options

Users can customize the look of their Fotki site by using different pre-designed skins or manually selecting colors for each element on their page.[citation needed]

Community features

The site by 2011 had been recognized by CNET as a Web 2.0 social networking application, as it also includes forums, blogs, and contests beyond photo and video sharing.[5]

Beyond photo search, as of 2011, there were also features to search for other members by a number of criteria such as interests.[5] Members can be searched by name, profile type, location, gender, age, interest, marital status and more. IPTC keyword searching is supported.[citation needed]

Each Fotki member gets an e-mail account. Fotki e-mail system features a spam filter with 20 levels of sensitivity, address book and the ability to create custom folders to organize messages. Each member has a Guestbook which can be enabled or disabled. Guestbook messages can be public or private. Each individual photo can be commented. Members can create any number of personal blogs and forums.[citation needed]

Fotki runs photo contests on a regular basis. Participation is open to all registered members. Usually, first 3 winners receive a one-year Premium membership, but sometimes there may be other prizes involved if the contest is sponsored by a third party. Effective May 11, 2007,[12] Fotki runs a weekly "My Photo Of The Week" contest.[citation needed]


As of 2011, offered printing services[5] which included (as of 2006) digital photo prints, postcards, photo mugs, T-shirts, magnets, mouse-pads and photo frames at competitive[13] prices.[14]

Professional services

Professional photographers can sell their photos at their own price, higher than the printing cost imposed by Fotki.[citation needed] The difference in price minus 15% commission fee goes to the photographer, as of 2011.[5] Earned money is remitted by PayPal, check or bank transfer. Photographers who offer their photos for sale can upload small size, low-res or watermarked images to avoid theft. When such photo is requested, the photographer has the option to securely upload the full size image for printing.[citation needed]

Video sharing

Fotki offers a unique video hosting service, which allows uploading and storing videos and photos together in one album.[citation needed]

The company charges per GB of storage and per GB of traffic. To activate this service, members must deposit to their balance. Video streaming is ads free for everybody.[citation needed]

Fotki members can also store links to videos hosted by other websites. Video collections are displayed as a list of embedded previews which will enlarge when clicked on. To be accepted, the video has to be stored on Google Video, YouTube, Metacafe, Vsocial, MySpace, Vimeo, or Dailymotion.[citation needed]

Privacy and security

Each account has a private and public area. Private areas are visible only to the account owner. Users can set viewing options to allow certain categories of people to view their albums (everybody, Fotki members only, Fotki friends only, or just the owner). Albums can be hidden or password protected or both.[citation needed]

Adult content can be marked with a "viewers discretion advised" flag. Such content requires age confirmation to be viewed. The site's Terms Of Service[15] policy prohibits public display of adult content. Users can report photos in question using a complaint form. Copyright infringement is also prohibited.[citation needed] Users can view IPs of people who write comments and guestbook messages on their site. Login names of visitors to a member's personal site are logged and stored in the member's "Guests" section. These options can be turned off. All sensitive, personal and financial information is transmitted using SSL encryption (https). Personal information including email is not available to the public.[citation needed]


As of January 2011, the site was partially translated to Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Estonian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Ukrainian and Hebrew. With volunteer help, Fotki continues to translate its pages and improve the existing translation. Volunteers are given Premium memberships for contributing.[citation needed]


Fotki has been mostly criticized for not providing enough storage space to its Free members,[16] problems with hotlinking,[17] no month-to-month membership,[18] and traffic limit.[19] In addition, Fotki show ads on albums of paid Premium members.[20]

Controversies and discussions

Censorship and artistic nudity

In May 2006, a photo of a nearly-nude female was removed from a Fotki contest by the moderators. This initiated a prolonged discussion on "artistic nudity". The author of the disqualified entry criticized Fotki for censorship and questioned its policy on nudity. After exchanging arguments, the Fotki side agreed to review the site's policy in favor of artistic photography while the decision to prohibit adult content in public sections of the site was upheld. As a result, the Fotki administration decided to run a separate, non-public photo contest[21] once a month in which nudity is allowed.[citation needed]

Contest rules

In October 2006, several Fotki members posted messages in the Fotki blog protesting against the then-current contest rules which apparently allowed the earlier entrants to receive more exposure and thus get more votes. Other major issues brought up by the users included maintaining anonymity of entries while voting is in progress, allowing non-paying members to participate, working out a better formula for calculating the scores, allowing image editing and enhancement. A heated discussion[22] that involved many Fotki members quickly gave rise to a vigorous campaign to make the administration change the contest rules. As a result, a new contest system was introduced and new rules developed.[citation needed]

Updated storage policy

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Fotki sent out a message in June 2012 to all of its subscribers, notifying them of its financial situation and the resulting need for extra support for the storage of the original full-sized images. Access to the original images was suspended until further arrangements were made. In August 2015, all free members received a message to upgrade to a paid service. Fotki stated they could no longer support free members since they were doing away with ads and on October 1, 2015 all free members accounts would be deleted. All free members had to upgrade to a paid service or face their accounts to be deleted on October 1, 2015.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ " is one of the world's largest social networking sites". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  2. ^ a b c d e f " powers world's giants with Photo Engines". Toivo Tänavsuu, Next Web. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  3. ^ Fotki "Timeline And Details" page
  4. ^ a b Kovach, Steve. "Facebook and Google's political advertising problem goes beyond fake Russian accounts". Business Insider. Retrieved 2023-04-13.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i John Lewell (2011), Digital Photography for Next to Nothing: Free and Low Cost Hardware and Software to Help You Shoot Like a Pro - Photo-Sharing Sites with Free Basic Accounts, John Wiley & Sons, p. 287, ISBN 9780470970584, archived from the original on August 15, 2023, retrieved August 15, 2023
  6. ^ "Fotki". Webware, a CNET site. 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
  7. ^ "FOTKI going out of business? -". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  8. ^ "No need to build your own digital photo Web site". David Einstein, SFGate. 2002-08-26. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  9. ^ "Flickr vs Fotki". Halcyon Nancy, Travelers Blog. 2007-12-21. Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  10. ^ "Fotki -> mediaRSS -> PicLens!". Danny Thorpe, 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  11. ^ "Fotki updates site, announces new pricing". 2005-09-19. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  12. ^ "Fotki Weekly Contest Is Back!" blog entry
  13. ^ "The buck stops here". Fotobit, (customer comment). 2006-09-16. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  14. ^ Fotki Pricing
  15. ^ Fotki Terms Of Service
  16. ^ "7 Alternatives to Flickr". Eric, Photography Bay. 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  17. ^ " picture hosting problems". forlogos, B Stuff et cetera. 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  18. ^ "Review at Star Reviews". 2008-05-09. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  19. ^ "Fotki Traffic Limit". Roland Lim, The World According to Roland. 2007-09-03. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[unreliable source?]
  20. ^ "ad discussion".'s Forums.
  21. ^ "Welcome to Blue Ribbon Contest!". 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  22. ^ Comments to the ""My Pet's Coolest Pic" Test Photo Contest" blog entry