How to Scare Your Users, by Flickr

A friend of mine recently had his account ‘restricted’ by Flickr for “potentially offensive content”. His comments on Flickr’s treatment of the issue are concerning to me: as he describes in his entry:

They still haven’t gotten around to telling me what this content IS or why it is potentially offensive. … “There are millions of people visiting Flickr who may not see the world the same way you do” is certainly true, but a dangerous way to run a community.

I understand Flickr’s needs for the adequate use of controls on users accounts in order to make the site they want it to be, but threats of account termination on a service like Flickr are very concerning to me. I’ve invested a lot of work in my photos on Flickr, and although I’d like to continue to use the service, the feedback of anonymous users being able to lead to account termination with no human feedback in the loop is a scary prospect.

I’d love to hear that this is an oversight somewhere, but if I don’t see Dan get some feedback on his issues, maybe I should consider abandoning Flickr as the primary place to host my photos. Convenience isn’t really worth the possible risk of having an account terminated — presumably taking all its content with it — without even having feedback from a human on why. Clearly, that risk always exists with the Terms of Service that exist on the site — almost every site I’ve seen which has lawyers behind it has some sort of “We can do whatever we want, and in that case, you’re screwed” clause in their terms of use — but to have it become clear that they follow this path in something that seems a routine matter to resolve is a somewhat scary precedent.

4 Responses to “How to Scare Your Users, by Flickr”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    You *are*, of course, keeping local backups of all content you store in the cloud?

  2. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    I maintain backups of the images, and I’m still working on a script to backup the titles, descriptions, tags, sets, and other metadata that I generate. However, that’s not all the value that Flickr has for me: Comments, number of views, other people adding as a favorite, etc. are all important (or at least interesting) information that I can’t easily replicate in a sane way to any other gallery system that I have. Toss in the increasing amount of my participation in Flickr groups, and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of content generated by me or by other users viewing my photos that I can’t really back up in any sane way — and if Flickr is going to take such a draconian policy towards the users of their service, then the investment that I am putting into Flickr is misplaced.

  3. Cape Town Hotels Says:

    Thanks for the valuable information, Christopher. Your message really disturbs me. Does this mean Flickr will censure graphic material. Is it based upon complaints (or bad flags) from other users?

  4. The Whiteness Says:

    I was terminated by Flickr last week. Flickr have provided no advanced warning or any kind of explanation after the event. Fortunately I uploaded all my images from iPhoto so I have copies of the images, titles and tags. I had paid for the pro upgrade in exchange for absolutely nothing. I am furious.

    What I am supposed to do? There is, as far as I can make out, no ability to contact Flickr about their decision.

    Flickr’s action is total nonsense. Good riddance to bad rubbish.