Flickr Censors Popular Flickr API Developer, Developer Threatens to Kill Flickr Application FlickrLeech This Week

FlickrLeech is Temporarily Offline Pending a Censorship Issue Under Review

I'm Houser, and I'm now a moderate on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

From the more bad news from your friendly Flickr Censorship Bureau, apparently Flickr has pissed off one of their most significant developers big time. Andrew Houser, the developer of the popular FlickrLeech program, posted on his Flickr stream yesterday that Flickr has censored 100% of his Flickr photostream. Not only is Houser a kick ass photographer and popular Flickr user in his own right, he is the developer behind what I consider the number one Flickr API application on the internet today.

FlickrLeech allows you to browse Flickr in chunks of 200 photos at once rather than require a member to page endlessly through Flickr’s own pages. I’m not sure if this recent move on Flickr’s part is some sort of retaliation against Houser because they don’t like how he’s using the API, but it sucks big time. I rated Houser’s FlickrLeech application the number one hack on Flickr in an article last year on the top 10 hacks on Flickr.

From Houser:

“I just received an email. I’ll save you all the long of it and sum it up with the following sentence:

“If you don’t apply filters correctly, there’s a very good chance another member will let us know – in fact that’s why we’ve taken action today. (No need to be upset – it’s every member’s right to let us know if they ever feel uncomfortable. Yours too.)”

I’ve had a couple drinks this evening, so I’m probably best advised not to convey my actual feelings on this matter. I am typically very careful to mark anything that contains any hint of direct nudity as restricted and anything that is close as moderate. I suppose I have a bit of a European view of nudity and the body, and think that the American puritanical double-standard is, well, ridiculous and hypocritical.

What this means is that if you are not a Flickr member and you have not set your Safe Search filter to Moderate, you can not see my work – ANY of it. Not my child. Not my landscapes. Nothing. How ridiculous is that??? It makes me almost want to close my account. It’s removes any possibility that people looking for my landscape work – local publishing editors, etc – can ever see my work. It is, in no mixed words, censorship.”

Houser goes on to say that if Flickr does not uncensor his account this week that he will be closing his account and taking down his popular Flickr API app FlickrLeech.

Again, from Houser:

“I am one of Flickr’s longest standing paying members. I’ve been using Flickr since it was a Flash application! I have asked Flickr/Yahoo to assist me in moving my account from Moderate to Safe status and I will take whatever action I need to do in order to facilitate the change. If they fail to respond, I will be removing this account and taking down FlickrLeech – removing all support for this service – this week. “

Quite frankly, this sucks.

Flickr’s censorship sucks. As great a place as Flickr is for hosting photos, the ongoing censorship issue continues to be a huge pain in the ass. Whether it’s not letting Germans see boobies or taking down politically sensitive photos, or removing text that they disagree with in community forums it sucks. I’m going to be pissed if this action causes Flickr to lose FlickrLeech. I use FlickrLeech every single day as part of my Flickr experience. I’m also going to be pissed if we lose the great photography of Andrew Houser from the Flickr experience.

The other part about this this sucks though is that even if Houser’s account does get uncensored, it probably only will happen because he’s a popular user and people protested about it. Flickr censors thousands of other users every year who have little recourse but to either put up with it or close their account.

Flickr, do the right thing. Treat us like the adults that we are and unrestrict Andrew Houser’s account. You are stewards of one of the greatest collection of photographic imagery on earth. You owe us more than this sort of censorship.

Update: Although the censorship issue does not appear to be resolved, Houser has put FlickrLeech back online and added the following note to his Flickrstream: “I’ve decided to put FlickrLeech back online. I’ve received too much support over the few years it’s run to, in good conscious, pull it from people who use it. There have been enough infractions this week on what we can and can’t see, so I won’t add to it. I just will ask that you consider the censorship issues Flickr has to deal with – which, granted, are numerous and not easy to manage the traffic of – and urge Flickr to spend some time and money making the system better.”

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8 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I thought Zooomr was hosted in Japan, why would US laws apply to it?

  2. Jokie says:

    Is this really censorship or just a flashy headline? Looks to me more like they’re marking him as “offensive” moreso than outright blocking him if he’s not marking his material correctly (as defined by Flickr’s standards, not mine).

  3. Jokie says:

    He’s now back online as un-moderated as well. http://www.flickr.com/photos/houser/

  4. Mike Wood says:

    Glad to see he is back but it is rediculous it happened in the first place. I blogged about it this afternoon and the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got over the whole censorship at flickr.

  5. There is only one possible justification for censorship and that is to prevent harm. Unfortunately most censorship is driven by prejudice and the Flickr polices derive from the worst prejudices of the USA. It is well established that prejudice over nudity is harmful and that it is especially harmful to young people.

    The USA has far higher teenage pregnancy, abortion and STI rates than Europe and Flickr is making it worse. Prudery is child abuse hiding behind good intentions and prejudice.

    That Flickr should be able to harm our children by encouraging the same stupidity over here in Europe is completely unacceptable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I bet he did okay when he was shooting landscapes instead of naked women.

    Not everyone wants to see that kind of imagery. It’s flickr’s rules, their website, he’s merely renting space.

    What’s really the deal here?

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