Update on the Censorship Problem on Flickr


[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Well yesterday felt kind of weird for me. I think it was the first day in about 2 years that I didn’t upload any photos to Flickr. I’ve been a pretty fanatical user there uploading typically 5 to 10 photos every single day. The last photo I uploaded there was on Thursday though and I haven’t uploaded another one since. I’m pissed at Flickr right now and so as much as I enjoy sharing my photos there I just didn’t feel like uploading any. I’m sure I’ll upload photos there again, but maybe not until they work out this massive censorship problem with their site.

I think also for the first time this past week my feelings may have turned more personally bitter against the site. Having people from Yahoo attack me and Zooomr anonymously in the blogosphere without disclosing their affiliation. Being censored at Flickr yet again in a help forum. The irony of having to look at a little “Flickr Loves You” bug at the top of my photo pages when it probably really should read “Flickr Hates You” in my case, etc.

It’s weird, even though I decided to work on Zooomr, I’ve always felt very good about Flickr and especially the people who work on Flickr before this past week. Sure I’ve been critical of Flickr, and I was critical of Flickr before joining Zooomr, but I always felt mostly positive about the site and service, especially from a user perspective. Anyways, hopefully it was just a particularly rotten week and I’ll feel differently soon. But I probably won’t be uploading any more photos to the site until the censorship thing in Germany is fixed.

So back to the censorship in Germany thing. It’s actually beyond just Germany, but the latest update from Flickr staff is this:

“The decision to change the Flickr experience in Germany was never about censorship – it was made to try to ensure that Yahoo! Germany was in compliance with local legal restrictions. In fact, we’re all getting really uncomfortable that the words “flickr” and “censorship” are being jammed together with increasing frequency because that is _so far_ from the direction we’re trying to move in.”

There’s a lot more to it than just this and you can read a lot more of the back and forth details on the situation at the official Flickr forum thread on the issue here. There are almost 2800 comments (minus my deleted and censored ones) there now mostly from Germans who object to being treated like they are children and cannot see much of what is on Flickr — despite the fact that Flickr staff says that they don’t want to treat them like children.

I dunno. For what it’s worth I’m not buying the legal defense thing here. I mean the censorship thing was turned on overnight. Germany went from being uncensored one day to being censored the next. Certainly Yahoo has lots of smart lawyers and I can’t believe that they were putting themselves in harms way for so long before this. If I were Yahoo I’d probably just revert Germany back to how it was before until they get their legal ducks in a row and then turn the German localization back on then. I’m sure it’s not as simple as this, but I would think that the risk that they had before they flipped the localization switch really probably wasn’t that great and that another month or so of that risk probably wouldn’t end up with anyone in jail until they can get whatever system plans they need to get worked out. I seriously doubt that the German government would put anyone in jail in fact simply for offering an uncensored photo sharing site. Maybe I’m wrong and Yahoo got a letter or something from the German authorities threatening them. But if this is the case if it were me I’d make a letter like that public and use it to reinforce my position.

I also find it offensive that Flickr keeps trying to dismiss censorship. In Flickr’s current official response Heather Champ says that this issue with Germany was “never about censorship,” and yet it is censorship. This is similar to official language used by Flickr before when they tried to argue that censorship on Flickr could not be considered censorship because we agree to terms of service on the site. That’s lame. I think rather than trying to dismiss this as not being censorship when it very much is, Flickr should just say, yes, we’re censoring Germany at the present time but would rather not be and are working on a way to get it fixed. To try to dismiss that this is about censorship just makes people more mad I think.

Anyways, that’s my two cents.

The mainstream press of course has finally picked up on this story. You can now read about it in places like CNET, Wired, The International Herald Tribune, Forbes, and from TV websites from affiliates of Fox and CBS.

I’ve read an awful lot of articles, stories, comments, blog posts, and heated debate all over the internet about this issue over the past week. I think the best summary of the current situation though that I’ve seen on the internet yet comes from Pierre Honeyman. Pierre is someone on Flickr that I respect a great deal. He’s a great photographer but he’s also been a staunch anti-censorship proponent. You can read Pierre’s thoughts on the matter here. Be warned that you may find some of the language in Pierre’s post offensive:

“I find the lack of response from Flickr interesting. It seems that when problems are easy Flickr staff are quick to jump in, solve them, and be all friendly and communicative about them. When problems are hard the opposite appears true: rather than communicate Flickr staff clam up and appear to be doing nothing. As a result large segments of the community feel condescended to.

Flickr is much less of a community than it used to be, and I’ve only been here just over 2 years. Flickr has always been absolutely lousy about communicating to users certain decisions they may feel somewhat icky about, like the old NIPSA system, and the current silent setting of accounts to be “unsafe”, but this is fucking ridiculous.

Four entire countries, well three and a city, are now being told that they aren’t adult enough to handle all of what Flickr has to offer, despite handling it just fine up until a few days ago. And then Heather, the Community Manager, has the gall to pop in sometime yesterday and cry about the terms Flickr and Censor being used together: well suck it up crybaby, because Flickr is acting as a Censor in a very strict interpretation of the term. Flickr is, on behest of the State, determining what is permissible for their customers to view.

And, Flickr is doing it in an incredibly hamfisted way.

We were all assured that using Yahoo! sign-ons wouldn’t effect our Flickr experience in any way. But now those self-same Yahoo! sign-ons are being used to determine, inaccurately, who is to be censored.

This decision is couched in terms of business, but it feels like a gutless sell-out that only predicts less, not more, community building in the future. There appears to be a widening gap between what users consider to be their interests and what Flickr considers to be their users interests, and Flickr doesn’t appear to
be paying any attention to this. People came here because Flickr had soul: Flickr felt different and open, and fun, and edgy, and there was a lot of really cool stuff going on. People stayed after Yahoo! because people were assured, time and time again, that “nothing would change.”

So Flickr either has to go back to Yahoo! and take their fucking balls back or admit that they are no longer in control, creative or otherwise, of what was once theirs.


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  1. Thomas Hawk says:

    David, the YouTube report is very good. I moved it to the top of this post. Thanks for making it.

  2. Apprentice says:

    Yeah very well said Thomas, I’ve not uploaded any photos much for several weeks now, since all that stuff with Rebekka, and certainly I’m not going to use the site to host my photos with the current situation as it is.

    Well said too, to that Pierre Honeyman. I have always like his aplomb.


  3. metrixon says:

    I’ve been a flickr pro user but have not renewed. Yesterday I cancelled my flickr and Yahoo account right away.
    To my mind, the biggest problem is not the censorship in itself (though it’s a bad thing none the less). But what really drove me away from flickr is the way the flickr staff is handling this issue.
    Calling the censorship a “change of the flickr experience for german users” is at least disrespectful if not insulting.
    There is no clear statement why the censoring has to take place – only vague hints that it is somehow related to German laws – but of course, they cannot tell any details …
    As I see it, flickr is dishonest to its community and simply tries to get away with it. Maybe they are big enough to survive with this strategy – but there are many users who will not support this kind of behaviour.

  4. jpdefillippo says:

    Tom I like you a lot man. You’re a great guy and an amazing photog but these petty attacks on Flickr make you look like a petty douche bag. Seriously. Stop it man.

  5. Badgrrl says:

    David’s video mentions how difficult it would be to remove his 1,800 pix from Flickr. This is a question that’s puzzled me for about a year. I uploaded about 1,000 photos last year and have since lost all the originals. Does anyone know if there is anyway to use FTP or some other batch command to download copies of the originals which I had scanned or do I need to go to each picture individually? map33@yahoo.com

  6. pablo says:

    Hello Thomas,

    Is that link to Pierre Honyman
    working? I get…

    This page is private.
    Oops! You don’t have permission
    to view this page.

  7. Vinny says:

    I think I’ve finally figured out what’s really rubbing me the wrong way here.

    Flickr doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously.

    I was just peeking around Central to see what the clique was saying and it turns out that there are some seriously outraged people about it and the mods are basically all about “it’s no big deal” and cracking jokes.

    Not that I expect anything more from the mods than the employees are giving, but my point is that it matters to a lot of people and yet Flickr, instead of addressing the issue, seems oddly silent.

    I just don’t get it. What does Yahoo! have to gain from diminishing the concerns of a whole country of users? Why don’t they see the need to seriously address an issue its membership seems to be taking very personally?

  8. Ulrich says:

    @ badgrrl: just use flickr backup to reload your pictures (not the comments…) to your hard disk: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=147249&package;_id=162257

    and then upload them somewhere else 😉

  9. Fyodor says:

    If Yahoo! can have journalists jailed and tortured, they won’t bat an eyelash at censoring your photographs.

    It is time to vote with your [virtual] feet.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I get it, you don’t want us to use Flickr because you are trying to push Zooomr.

  11. Vinny says:

    I’d love to see an anonymous comment from someone who wasn’t a clueless ass.

    Oh, and Jason? You’d be right to complain if he didn’t have a point and if his complaints were baseless. He does, and they’re not.

  12. Adam Lasnik says:

    Thomas… I can’t find a way to write this kindly yet effectively: It’s time for you to grow up.

    I’ve sat back for ages and watched you — the CEO of a site directly competitive with Flickr — bash Flickr, whine about Flickr, grandstand about your site in comparison with Flickr.

    Chill out. Personally, I refuse and likely will continue to refuse to check out your service because I’m aghast at your unprofessionalism, immaturity, and shockingly bad judgment.

    Repeat after me: It’s rude and counterproductive to bash your competitors, not to mention so frequently and vociferously.

    If you’re tired of Flickr, cancel your account and get on with your life.

    Personally — despite the fact that I work for a competitor of Yahoo — I’m hugely annoyed by the mob mentality over on Flickr. It’s been clear to me for ages that Stewart and his team really care about their service, really care about their users, and indeed are doing the best they can to do the right thing.

    If it weren’t for them having to calm angry, irrational, hysterical mobs every few weeks, they might actually get more work done.

    And on a similar note, if you worried less about what your competitors did and more about scaling your own business, you might not be so frequently breaking launch promises and such.

    Consider this tough love, Thomas. I don’t know you, I’ve never met you, and I have no urge to see you fail. But until someone actually gives you a virtual spanking and tells you to shut up and get back to work, I fear you’re going to cluelessly continue your unproductive whining… to the detriment of yourself and the great annoyance of those of us who continue to run into your rants on techmeme.

  13. Anonymous says:

    FYI – Another passionate report (made Digg home page) is here from the German side:

  14. Thomas Hawk says:

    Jason and Adam. Thank you for your thoughtful criticism. And with all due respect I’m going to respond to you.

    What I will say first is that I have been at least 100x more active than both of you in Flickr. This is something that I think you need to know about me.

    I am very obsessive compulsive. This can be good and bad. On the good side I can have an amazing amount of passion, drive and energy to accomplish things. Even great things. As an artist I’m trying to finish 500,000 fine art photographs before I die for instance. This would likely make me the most prolific photographer who has ever lived. I’m not saying that to brag and there are certainly many who would argue that I pursue quantity over quality, but that’s who I am.

    I have literally lived inside of Flickr for the past 2 years. Both before and after I began work on Zooomr I have spent on most days an average of between 14 and 20 hours inside the site. I have uploaded over 9,000 photographs, I have over 6,000 contacts, I have received over 40,000 comments on my photos. I have personally faved almost 25,000 photographs. In addition to these activities I have been very, very involved socially on the site. I literally post in forums and groups every single day. I have stayed up all night long posting in forums before. Frequently I will not go to bed until 3am in the morning because I am active on Flickr.

    For the last 2 years I have eaten, slept and breathed flickr.

    Now I know that this is not healthy. And in fact to the extent that other more important things in my life have suffered in some ways I feel regret over some of this time spent.

    Still, the fact remains that I have been far, far, more active than either of you, I have been far, far, more active than even flickr staff.

    There are a couple of other people who have been as active as I have on the site. Shhexy Corin, Striatic and maybe a few dozen other individuals who also choose to live much of their life online in Flickr.

    I have watched the characters come and go. I have started groups, joined groups, made many, many offline friends through Flickr.

    That said you have to understand how integrated flickr has become with who I am today. I don’t expect either of you to understand this really, but if you ask those that really know Flickr they will in fact confirm my involvement.

    I could no sooner quit talking, thinking, debating about flickr at this point than I could cut off my hand.

    Well before Zooomr I have been an ardent anti-censorship proponent on Flickr. It was I who started the very first “Uncensored” group on Flickr. A group that has evolved into one of the most active groups on Flickr and that has spawned 60 or so other uncensored groups on the site.

    I tell you this because I think you need to understand that irrespective of anything else I have been as connected to Flickr as any zealot might be connected to their religion. And when something gets that deep inside you (yes I know it’s only a photo sharing site, but for a handful of us it something far more) you just can’t *not* talk about it.

    Now with that in the background I think you will find me talking less about flickr in the future. For a few reasons. First, my obsession with Flickr is not healthy. Too many more important things have suffered because of it. Also as Zooomr has gotten better and better and especially more social with our most recent release I suspect I will be spending much more of my social photo sharing time on Zooomr rather than Flickr.

    But also in some ways my heart is breaking with Flickr. It’s hard to really put into words but the past month has in fact been very stressful and hard on me personally.

    I can tell you that as passionate as I’ve been about the censorship issues I have equally been passionate about other issues on Flickr. And much of it well before Zooomr. I have argued about the need for trackbacks on Flickr, for stock photography on Flickr, for image search on Flickr. I’ve debated many things that have little to do with Flickr on Flickr. The right to shoot an anonymous couple at their wedding in City Hall, artists who make babies cry, altercations with security guards, politics, alcohol, food, religion, photographic technique. So many things really.

    Many of the people on Flickr and especially in the deleteme group are like my family. They are really that close.

    You might not like reading my criticisms of Flickr. And I invite you not to read my blog. But at the end of the day my blog is a personal web blog. A place where I can go to talk about things that are intensely personal to me.

    I understand that what I say here has much larger implications than my own thoughts. And I can understand how that might bother you, especially given that I am now working on a competing project to Flickr.

    But that’s who I am. And that’s all I can really give you at this point. I think you might understand more if you were two of the people who lived in Flickr. But you aren’t. Not like I am anyway. And until then I couldn’t begin to hope that you might understand.

  15. Thomas Hawk says:

    Oh, and Jason and Adam, and this is totally unscientific, but I think it is also interesting to see what comes up when you do a search for my name and the word flickr on Google.

    On Google you get the following:

    “thomas hawk” flickr = 290,000 results

    “stewart butterfied” flickr = 133,000 results

    “caterina fake” flickr = 136,000 results

    “heather champ” flickr = 43,400 results

    “Cal Henderson” flickr = 53,000 results

    “Adam Lasnik” flickr = 11,300 results

    “Jason DiFillippo” flickr = 11,000

    Again, my results are obviously influenced by the fact that I’m a well known blogger. But I’d challenge either of you to find any other well known blogger or any other human being on the planet for that matter whose name returns more results on Google in tandem with flickr than mine does.

  16. Jake says:

    Digg Pierre directly. Full text available for anyone.

  17. Andy Frazer says:

    @Adam Lasnik… Thomas has probably been the biggest proponent of Flickr over the past two years. I think you jumped to conclusions when you posted your comment.

  18. stockwerk23 says:

    Just want to add a few things. I was on flickr since early 2005 and it was my first dive into web 2.0. Flickr made me start taking pictures and i learned a LOT from my contacts and friends there. I also met a bunch of flickeres in real life. It was an addiction from the very first day. My first pro account was a gift from a french guy i never heard of before. One day i had flickrmail that said: Hey, i like your pictures very much and you deserve a pro account. (That was when Yahoo gave pro accounts to give away for already pro members) You can’t imagine my excitement. “Almost” like Thomas i was there most of my spare time.
    The first thing in the morning was checking flickr.

    But then Yahoo took over and things go worse day by day. I remember several times when flickr staff said: “Nothing will change!” but almost every time it was the exact opposite. But nonethless just after my first gifted pro account expired, i renewed, mainly because of some groups i was involved and that i didn’t want to miss. I guess you know how easily one can be dependent on something.

    In autumn 2006 there was the first *real* gash on my trust in flickr. I run the *23*-group on flickr and the famous and solvent “New Line Cinema” just took a lot of pictures (vast majority was licenced as “all rights reserved”) from that group without permission to promote the website of the movie “23” with Jim Carrey. I figured that out by chance, because one of the group members pointed the movie out in the group, as it was related to the theme. Alas, nobody answered my requests at NLC and so i decided o post in Flickr Central. After some heated discussion (i guess it’s still in the archive) and lots of posts and after Heather promised to sort things out the site was eventually taken from the web. But that happened silent and with no further comment from Flickr Staff. There was no offical statement after that. I tried to contact Heather several times, but there was no response. I was *really* disappointed as i thought they’d care about their members.

    Then one thing came to another, the Yahoo ID-Login was announced, the “brand universe” was made public and got testet with the “wii”, the Shin Tao case came to my attention. And Flickr was always on a halfhearted position. Trying to appease members but keep on going the chosen path.

    Finally i refused to switch to a Yahoo-ID, deleted all photos except a “suicide note” and let my account expire. In the meantime i was a member of Zooomr and i’m more than happy with my new home. I wasn’t very surprised of the latest Flickr desaster, only the coldblooded behaviour (maybe ordered by Yahoo-HQ) made me wonder a tiny bit.

    Have a nice weekend (or the rest of it) everyone… :o)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Who cares about Germany, this is America, Fuck Yea!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I was a pro user of flickr for over a year. I uploaded at least one photo every two days. I went on vacation and came back and found my whole account marked as unsafe. I am now looking for somewhere else to “share” photos. Flickr is dead to me..I don’t go there to look at photos of birthday parties and puppies..I go there to look at art. Flickr has made the decision that they are going to be censoring at will…and its only a matter of time before they start handing over your pictures to the American government if they “think it may show criminal behavior” and a little time after that if they “think it shows immoral behavior”..you know they will! Today, Flickr = Censorship way to go flickr!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I understand the history of TH and Flickr, but now that he’s the CEO of Zooomr he needs to realize that most people outside the little Flickr world will see this as nothing more than a drunk CEO hell bent for publicity.

    Thomas is only anti censorship when it suits him. He was trying to shut people up he didn’t agree with before and he’ll probably do it again. I don’t like Jill Greenberg anymore than he does, but what he was trying to do is censor her work.

  22. Al says:

    I think you can safely disregard Jason Defillippo’s viewpoint for a much simpler reason: you saw his true colors over the whole jpg fiasco. Publicly disowning Derek as a friend because he spoke up about his side of how he got canned from his own mag and then calling you names on your own site are probably fairly good signs on who the real douchebag is. This guy’s oh for two on being on the right side of recent web community fiascos.

    And at the same time, yes, it’s going to look to the casual observer like you’re trashing Flickr just to drum up traffic to Zooomr. It certainly did to me until I started reading you regularly and following your Twitters – you can’t always get a clear picture of what someone’s motivations are right off the bat, esp in complicated situations like this. Sorry man, that’s just the way it’s going to come across to some people and you don’t have to break your back to overexplain. Well, not after this post anyway, this clears things up pretty well.

    And you should definitely use the disatisfaction to build out Zooomr right, channel the heartbreak into something useful. [Insert cheesy phoenix cliche here]

  23. Anonymous says:

    I work at Yahoo, and we’re in the process of internationalizing other (recent) properties, and the quirks of local laws is maddening. Not in the oppressive government type of maddening, but the sheer insanity of certain regulations.

    Unfortunately, as much as they claim, Flickr is not in charge of their path any longer.

  24. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous #5, I have stated previously and publicly elsewhere that despite my intense personal feelings of disgust for the methods which Jill Greenberg uses to make her art that I would not censor her were she to open an account on Zooomr.

    Expressing strong personal opinions with regards to Greenberg’s work, even applying pressure for moral reasons is not censorship. I have never censored Jill Greenberg. If someone disagrees with something for instance and says lets boycott XYZ company because I don’t agree with them, this is not censoring that company.

    You say that I’m only anti-censorship when it suits me. You obviously do not know me or you would not make sure a claim. I have held ardent anti-censorship positions for a long, long time as those who really know me can attest.

  25. Anonymous says:

    posting anon because I do not represent my employer.

    Background: I use flickr as a “viewer” only, I do not upload photos. I work for a company that deals exclusively with adult content.

    I think that Yahoo is handling this very badly but Germany’s (and many countries’) laws must be addressed.

    You should take this opportunity to make sure that Zooomr does not handle this issue in the same manner (or anywhere close).

    Zooomr must deal with this issue and, as an unsatisfied Flickr user, you know how *not* to handle it. Use your Flickr pain for something positive.

    Handle this issue in a way that sets an example, others will learn from it and try to improve on it, then Zooomr can try to improve on that, etc, etc… Everyone spirals upward.

  26. Anonymous says:

    TH, I think that Tough Love advice is worth listening to, remember this?

    Thomas Hawk says
    …I probably need to work on how I react to situations better because the reactionary dramatics could probably better be channeled into more productive and positive things…


    Reactionary dramatics, indeed…give it a rest…

  27. PERCY says:

    You want to check out Picli.
    Theyre quite small at the moment but i can tell therye gona overtake.

    The Fall of Flickr has begun

  28. Vinny says:

    You know what’s funny most recent anonymous coward who won’t leave a name? You go a long way toward proving Thomas’ point: That he loves’s Flickr and is hurt by their actions of late.

    When you take that line in context:

    I hold no malice towards you Stewart nor towards flickr as you suggest. I honestly do love flickr and have a great deal of respect for you personally. Sometimes I get wound up though. And I’m good at promotion. Things that wind me up the most are probably censorship, patents that undermine innovation, people that would try and restrict what a photographer can shoot in public, things that hurt kids (I’m not saying Flickr does these things by the way I’m just pointing out that i react emotionally sometimes to certain hot topics for me).


    But in all of it I feel no malice towards Flickr or you. I appreciated your chat the other night and advice on the photo sharing business. In my heart more than anything I’m a photographer. An obsessive compulsive and sometimes whacked out photographer, but at my core that’s a big part of what I’m about.

    I probably need to work on how I react to situations better because the reactionary dramatics could probably better be channeled into more productive and positive things.

    And I’m sorry that I said Flickr doesn’t innovate. Flickr does innovate.

    I think this is going to be my last post in this thread too. I’m sure I might be goaded back into it despite the fact that I’m saying this now, and if not this one, the next one. It seems like we’re running on course for about a Thomas Hawk thread a week in Central these days, but I’m going to try not to be so reactionary in the future. I actually think that’s better.

    Good job proving his point with his own words, particularly since these came 2 weeks ago.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Fuck off, Vinny…I never defended Flickr and their shitty handling of their problems.

    You don’t see the CEO of RC Cola running a public campaign about how Coca Cola needs to get it together, do you?

    TH is in a unique position cuz he wants to compete against Flickr, and his constant harping on them demonstrates a true weakness. Ethical businesspeople promote and evangelize for their brands and their business models; they don’t spend their energies publicly finger pointing at others.

    TH knows better. Build a better service, and promote it. If the marketplace agrees with him, success will follow.

    Only a fool wants to be the first result when you Google for Drunken CEO.

    (And, he can disable anonymous commenting anytime he wants to…I guess it doesn’t bother him.)

  30. Vinny says:

    Hey anonymous coward, I can see why you won’t sign your name to what you write because RC Cola v. Coca Cola is not the same thing.

    Thomas was a member of Flickr BEFORE ZOOOMR EXISTED.

    Thomas continued to post to Flickr, contribute to the community, and maintain contacts on Flickr AFTER ZOOOMR EXISTED.

    Thomas also has said on numerous occasions that he stays on Flickr because he loves it and loves the community there, and that their recent actions hurt that and made him feel badly about something he once loved dearly.

    You write anonymously because you don’t have the balls to post an actual name with your comments. That’s fine. If I wrote the baseless crap you’re writing, I wouldn’t sign my name to it either.

    Why is this so hard for people like you to understand?

    Anonymous = coward. Put some bass in your voice and a name on your posts if you’re gonna criticize someone. Anonymous criticism isn’t worth the toilet paper it’s written on.

  31. Anonymous says:

    you should be using http://www.qrimp.net it’s much better. more features and no censorship

  32. Anonymous says:

    When did this become the Vinny blog?

    Go post your insignificant thoughts (and rants) in your own space, douchebag.

    Kind Regards,

    Staying Anon ‘Cause it Bugs You

  33. Vinny says:

    Oh wow. I’m so hurt. Someone who doesn’t have the balls to mention his name just called me a douchebag.

    That’s the last resort of someone with no point. I’ll take it as high praise.

  34. Jason says:

    Thomas, I agree 100% with your post. However, it is hard to feel too sorry for the users in Germany compared to the users in other countries that are being censored (like China). If the users in Germany care so much, they should work to change their own laws! They shouldn’t be so passive and want Flickr/Yahoo to fight the fight for them.

  35. Vinny says:

    There’s also a law about Nazi symbolism that doesn’t seem to get Flickr all hot and bothered…

  36. Jeff says:

    jason, that was exactly what I was thinking. You have a government that, in an effort to make sure fascist regimes cannot gain popularity again, limits free speech by telling people that they can’t display nazi symbols. You also have a country that shows naked women moaning on public TV in those ridiculous phone sex ads, but promotes censorship on the web. Seems kinda backwards to me.

    On this particular matter, it’s clear to me that Flickr took the safe route by removing access to all possibly objectionable content – one of the downsides of being part of Yahoo! is that Flickr is seen as having deep pockets for potential lawsuits and that makes them very conservative about taking risks. I can’t say I blame them for this, but the PR machine at Y! should loosen the clampdown and let the founders be more candid about the issues and what is being done to address them. As a Yahoo! employee myself for many years, I can say that I think Y! needs to take more risks. Easy for me to say since I’m not a corporate lawyer, but sometimes you have to ride (or even cross) a fine legal line in order to support your users, especially when your service depends on a strong community.

  37. Martin says:

    @Jason: “If the users in Germany care so much, they should work to change their own laws!”

    There is *NO* law in Germany that is compatible to the braindead wholesale blocking that flickr enacts.

    Again: flickr is blocking *all* pictures tagged “moderate” and up for *all* german-speaking users (including users from Austria, Switzerland etc.), and you can’t disable “safe search”.

    It is not “nudity” or something like this, it is “moderate”, and if one of your pics is not tagged, this pic or even all your pics will be treated as if at least tagged “moderate”.

    Lots of german users even can’t see their own pictures any longer.

    Please remember also cultural differences – what’s “moderate” for you may be completely harmless for me or absolutely shocking – depends. I.e. something like “Nipplegate” would be inconceivable here in Germany and was filed under “those wacky Americans again”, our legal drinking age is 16, but for our driving license you have to do a lot of lessons (theory and practice) and usually you have to be at least 18, swastikas are not considered “free speech”, and so on…

    Even better is the e-mail Nico Zorn got from Yahoo!’s german customer support: http://www.nicozorn.com/2007/06/18/flickr-dann-loesch-doch-deinen-account/

  38. Isn’t it ironical that we use a YouTube report to criticise Flickr’s censorship? YouTube’s is far worse.