Flickr = Censorship (Updated)

flickr = censorship

An update on Edelson Flores’ account deletion case here.

Well unfortunately another week is upon us and that means we have to deal with yet another case of Flickr/Yahoo censorship. The victim this time is professional photographer Edelson C. Flores. Flores first aired his concern about his account deletion in the Flickr Help Forum after trying to contact Flickr staff privately with no success. That thread subsequently was locked by Flickr staff. Flores tried to again air his concern in another thread in the help forum that also was promptly locked as well.

From Flores’ original complaint:

“I have written several times asking why my account “adoniel” was deleted several days ago without any previous notice or warning but I have yet to receive a formal reply from Flickr with an explanation. I am a professional photographer and all the content in my photostream was my own work, creation and intellectual property. I also don’t believe I had posted any content that would have been deemed inappropriate or violated your guidelines. I am very disappointed as I had spent a great deal of time uploading my photos, tagging and adding descriptions. Your actions are extremely inconsiderate and highly questionable. I was about to upgrade my account to a Pro 2-year account, but I am very glad I did not upgraded. I would prefer to spend my money elsewhere if this is how you treat your customers. You have certainly lost my trust, business and support. I am writing to Yahoo Inc, your parent company to let them know exactly how you run this web site and treat customers. I am very disappointed with your actions and lack of communication.
Sincerely,

Edelson C. Flores
Flickr: “adoniel” “

In addition to locking the threads above where Flores was protesting his account deletion, Flickr also redacted the name of the Flickr staffer in question who had provided Flores the reasoning for his account deletion, Terrence.

Below is the original email informing Flores of his account deletion provided by Edelson to me:

[Flickr Case 1278697] Re: Report Abuse: Other Concerns
Thursday, August 6, 2009 4:06 PM
From:
This sender is DomainKeys verified
“Flickr Support”
Add sender to Contacts
To:
adoniel@yahoo.com
Hello,

Flickr account “adoniel” was deleted by Flickr staff for
violating our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.

www.flickr.com/guidelines.gne

# Do upload content that you have created.
Respect the copyright of others. This means don’t steal
photos or videos that other people have shared and pass
them
off as your own. (That’s what favorites are for.)

# Don’t upload anything that isn’t yours.
This includes other people’s photographs and/or stuff that
you’ve collected from around the Internet. Accounts that
consist primarily of such collections may be terminated.

Flickr reserves the right to deactivate your account
without warning at any time.

-Terrence

Based on the above email it would seem that Flores’ account was terminated because Flickr alleged that he was hosting photographs that were not his. But Flores tells a different story. When I contacted Flores about this issue he said, “I have been a professional freelance photographer for the last 10 years. All the content/images that were posted in my Flickr photostream were all my work, creation and intellectual property.” Furthermore all photos in Flores’ stream were watermarked with his own personal copyright information. It is hard for me to see how Flickr could make a mistake of deciding that these photos did not belong to Flores.

When I asked Flores if he’d received further emails or warning emails from Flickr regarding his account, he said he had not. He said that the email above was the only email that he’d received from Flickr.

I’ve contacted Yahoo to try and get their side of the story on this although I have not heard back from them yet. I suspect, as is the case in other situations that they will refuse to comment on Flores’ case and refuse to reinstate his account. This is not right.

Flickr owes their customers better than this. When we spend our time and energy investing in the work to upload, tag, store, etc. our photos on Flickr, Yahoo owes us at a minimum a warning before they delete accounts, as well as an appeals process to reinstate deleted accounts. Flickr’s policy of shoot first, ask questions later is short-sighted. Because Flickr largely has a monopoly on the online photographic community, however, they seem to feel that they can abuse their customers and get by with impunity. And that also is too bad.

Personally I think that Flickr owes Flores an apology and also owes him his account back. Rather than trying to push yet another of their censorship mistakes under the rug by locking threads complaining about it, they ought to own up to their error and offer us a roadmap on how they will prevent this sort of error from happening again next week. Unfortunately though it seems that to Flickr/Yahoo, it’s just one more disgruntled censored customer and who the hell cares about that.

Update: It seems after yesterday’s account deletion without warning, Flickr is back at it again today. Read the latest complaint below taken from the Flickr Help Forum by user Riann Flynn:

“Hey there!

I think my account was deleted and i’m not sure why! I had hundreds of thousands of views, i was on the front page of explore a few times and I was an active member of many groups! My account just disappeared

I’m ok just starting over, but can i have my old url back? This way i dont have to redo all the links in my website and what not.

Please get back to me quickly. I have tried emailing CS, but i haven’t gotten a response!

Thanks!
Rian Flynn
www.RianFlynn.com

flickr.com/photos/rianflynn”

More here.

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15 Comments

  1. headless chook says:

    Another round of Thomas Hawk (now to be referred to as Henny Penny) running around like a headless chicken proclaiming that the sky is falling. What an exciting life he leads.

  2. […] more: Flickr = Censorship Share this on del.icio.usDigg this!Post this on DiigoShare this on RedditBuzz up!Stumble upon […]

  3. Sean McGee says:

    Thomas, though others criticize your bringing this to our attention, I applaud it. Keep it up. I’m a Flickr pro member and I approve this message.

  4. Franc says:

    apparently ‘headless chook’ is too coward to provide a link to his profile online. I also think this is hilarious but I really don’t like anonymous flamers like that.

  5. It would even be all that big of a deal, if there was a way of reinstating an account after it had been terminated. It kind of sucks that there’s no way to appeal if Flickr decides that you’re outside its terms of service.

  6. gwendolen says:

    Kinda sucks is putting it mildly. It is totally unacceptable.

    Why on earth are we putting up with this? I’m with Thomas. A minimum warning before they delete accounts, as well as an appeals process!

  7. Charlie says:

    headless chook are you mad? flickr doing stuff like this is why I left! A lot of people would consider flickr to be a backup site to store your photography from years ago in one safe of site place. The idea that at a technicians whim, all your photos can be deleted forever is terrifying!

    I hope Thomas Hawk carries on writing about his experiences with flickr, the police and any other persons or groups who like to do what they like with our photos or prohibit us from taking photos as a matter of “national security”.

  8. nick says:

    headless staffer, more like.
    This is quite disturbing. I understand the need to be able to shut someone down if they’re passing off others’ work, but to sweep the fallout under the carpet like this is reminiscent of the abuses of power we see around the world, from governments and corporates who have an over inflated sense of authority. A balance needs to be struck, and I personally find it more sickening when the abuse comes from above.

  9. chookless head says:

    Fascinating. There seem to be people who take Henny Penny seriously. I blame an underfunded education system.

  10. Ernie nitka says:

    Pardon my stupidity but is Flickr the only game in town? or is it just the most visited site. As an amateur there are plenty of other sites that one can use. But is this a must for the pro? I’m asking because i don’t know. All of this capricious behaviour would make me wanna flee and to take as many pros with me as possible.

  11. Arthur Dent says:

    Why not have Flores go to Zooomr? That would teach Flickr a better lesson than whining about censorship. Vote with your feet.

  12. brad77 says:

    Funny. My first thought was, “there he goes again,” but I decided to read anyway. Now I’m angry.

    Thanks for staying on the case, Thomas, even when we tire of it.

  13. It seems the flickr “shoot first and ask questions later” system is very vulnerable to griefers making false claims. If you really piss someone off (by, say, being popular) all they need to do is create a free fake identity and claim infirngement. Poof gone! I’m sort of surprised it hasn’t happened to you yet.

  14. dave says:

    maybe its time for everyone whos serious to use their own domains to host their art, and promote it through blogs, and forums. We might end up with more serious work, harder working artists and more respect for the art.

  15. […] Thomas Hawk is reporting that some Flickr users had their accounts terminated without any warning. See that as the wakeup call of what would happen if all your photos disappeared one day and you had no backup of them. […]