Use a Swear Word in a Private Email at Flickr and You Get Your Account Deleted
I was disturbed today to learn that a Flickr friend of mine Pierre Honeyman had his account deleted by Flickr. Pierre had been a long time contributor to Flickr and one of its most active users. Like me, Pierre joined Flickr over three years ago back in the days before Yahoo. He was very active (daily) in many of the groups that I was in and while occasionally a critic of censorship of Flickr, I always felt him to be a responsible contributor to the community.
Apparently the deletion all started earlier today when Pierre received the following email from Flickr Censor Cop Terrence:
We’ve seen an unusual number of “blocks” against your
In joining Flickr, you agreed to abide by the Terms of
Service and Community Guidelines. Specifically, you must
not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate
other Flickr members:
If we continue to see an unusual number of blocks against
your account, we will take further action that may include
termination without warning. (emphasis mine).
First of all, WTF? Flickr will delete your account if too many people block you? That’s about the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard of. I’ve had plenty of people block me. Are they going to delete my account too? Most of the time I have no idea why they blocked me in the first place. Anyone can block anyone on Flickr for any reason. To assume that people blocking you means you are harassing people is absurd. I can block you because I don’t like the fact that you have blue hair or that you live in Alaska or that you post too many photos of kittens or whatever. The fact that all a bunch of people have to do is block someone to get their account deleted is ludicrous.
To make matters worse, on Flickr you don’t even *know* who is blocking you. Unless you accidentally run across their photos and find that you can’t fave or comment on them it’s a deep dark secret.
So Pierre did what I’d expect him to do, he fired off a sort of WTF private email back to Flickr staff. In the email he swore at them and called them morons.
Now personally I’ve never known Flickr to be a place that would delete your account for swearing. I seem to remember former Flickr Chief and Founder Stewart Butterfield using a very F sort of word in a public interview on GETV a few years back.
And certainly Heather Champ, the community manager who deleted Pierre’s account is no stranger to the F word — a snipet from her blog: “F***ing illness. I’m so f***ing sick of being sick. F***. F***. F***.” Simply run a Google search for that certain F word and her name and you’ll find she’s used it liberally plenty of other places on the internet as well.
In any event, after Pierre sent this email back to Flickr staff objecting to their threat to delete his account if more people blocked him, without warning they did exactly that. They deleted his account. No warning. No second chances. No let’s sit down and talk about this. They simply deleted his account. His photos are gone. All of the years of comments and interaction on his photos is gone. Erased. Hours and hours of work on his part over the years simply erased away for daring to object to a threat to have his account deleted for a super stupid reason in the first place.
This sucks. As a *paying* member who had put thousands of hours into the Flickr community over the past four years Pierre deserved better than this. He deserved better than to have his pictures permanently erased and all the comments, contacts, and everything else that went along with his account taken away forever. This sort of retribution by Flickr was unwarranted and uncalled for.
Flickr should reinstate Pierre’s account that they deleted and simply give him a warning not to use such charged language or obscenities with Flickr staff again.
Pierre’s response to Flickr when threatened with account deletion in full:
“Oh shove it, I’ve been active here for 3 years or more.
You guys are getting f***ing ridiculous. The whole f***ing
point of Blocks is so that people can prevent users from
communicating FOR ANY REASON OR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. And
yet you sensitive morons go and use it as a reason to
threaten otherwise upstanding members about behaviour you
have no idea about? f***ing SHOVE IT. I’m sick of your
goddamn moron threats. I am who the f*** I am and yes, I’m
always like this. I don’t harass ANYONE. If people block me
they block me, and I usually don’t even know about it. Go
ahead, you f***ing twats, go find my harassing behaviour.
These threats are beyond the pale. Grow the f*** up
If you feel Pierre should have his account reinstated digg this here.
Update: Apparently a “Fun Blockers” group was set up on Flickr that had the objective of encouraging people to block people and that group has now reportedly been shut down by Flickr staff. Silencing your critics is never a good idea whether you have the power to do so or not. What’s more the group was shut down without any warning or explanation.
You can read more on that here. (Note, Flickr has deemed the Delete Me Uncensored group “adult” despite the fact that I can’t ever remember seeing a nude photo in it ever, so it is blocked to the general public. The only way to see the thread is to sign up at Flickr, consent to viewing adult material and joining the group). More crappy censorship at Flickr.
Update #2: Derek Powazek, the husband of the person that deleted Pierre’s account, tried to defend Flickr’s decision for deleting his account on digg. I suggested that he ought to disclose the fact that he’s married to the person who deleted the account and I get called an abusive douchebag asshole and jerk by him. Question. Why can Derek call me names like that and keep his account while Pierre calls someone names and loses his. Seems like a double standard to me. Nice.