Ok, so I’ve pretty much been avoiding blogging anything about Flickr/Yahoo for the past few months since I pretty much quit hanging out on the site, but this one’s pretty stupid so I’m going to blog about it anyways.
Yes, I’m the CEO Zooomr, a competitor to Flickr/Yahoo, so feel free to dismiss everything I say here as nothing more than yet another shameless attempt to bash the competitor. Still, it’s pretty stupid and it was brought to my attention by some of my friends over there so here goes.
Apparently Yahoo has deleted (read censored) a photo on their site because it was a photo of a kid with a cigarette.
Now, I’m all for kids. I’m a father myself. I don’t let my kids play with candy cigarettes and I hope they never smoke, but, this is simply stupid.
Apparently this was the response from Yahoo staff over the photo in question.
“Images of children under the age of 18 who are smoking tobacco is prohibited across all of Yahoo’s properties.
I’ve gone ahead and deleted the image from your photostream.
We appreciate your understanding.
I think where Flickr gets it wrong here is that by having a rule about photographs of kids smoking in place it leads to a very subjective interpretation of what should be censored and what should not. What about someone under 21 drinking alcohol? Should those photos be censored too? And what if the person viewing is from Italy where there is no law against drinking under the age of 21? What about a photo of someone jaywalking? That’s illegal isn’t it? More than even the problem with an image of a child smoking is the point of where lines of censorship ought to be drawn.
The photo above was taken by photographer Joseph Szabo. It’s entitled “Priscilla, 1969.” Dinosaur Jr. used it for their Green Mind album cover a number of years back (that’s a kick ass album by the way and highly recommended). I’ve posted the above photo on Flickr to see if they censor me as well or not. Will Flickr censor the work of a well known fine arts photographer, a high school teacher, a recipient of an award from the National Endowment for the Arts?
I don’t know, well see I guess. But it wouldn’t surprise me.
Also of course, and again no surprise to me I’ve been censored plenty personally in Flickr Help forums, is the fact that the thread associated with this act of censorship itself is locked by Yahoo Staff and thus effectively shut down. Beautiful indeed.
I do think that photographers have a moral responsibility with regards to what they shoot. But I don’t believe that shooting someone under 18 with cigarettes, especially in documentary fashion as is done by Szabo, ought to be a taboo worthy of censorship.
Censorships sucks pure and simple. Shame on Yahoo for once again choosing the path of censorship.
To follow a more uncensored thread on this subject you can read the thread in Flickr’s Deleteme Uncensored.