Someone’s Started a Flickr is Fascist Blog, Accuses Flickr of Anti-Gay Censorship Policies

Someone's Started a Flickr is Fascist Blog, Accuses Flickr of Anti-Gay Censorship Policies

Update: I just got banned from the Flickr help forum for posting a link about the new blog there.

I've Been Banned From the Flickr Help Forum

Update #2: the Flickr is Fascist blog has moved to http://saynotoflickr.blogspot.com/

Well it looks like someone’s finally gotten sick and tired enough of Flickr account deletions that they’ve launched a “Flickr is Fascist” blog. And before you ask, no, it wasn’t me.

The blog seems to focus especially on the recent rash of censorship on Flickr dealing with male non-porn gay related photostreams. The new site specifically calls out the fact that flickr censors closed their thread in the help forum entitled “Flickr’s new anti-gay policy” among others.

In addition to the help forum post above being locked by Flickr staff, there have been several recent cases on Flickr where photos showing either non-nude male self portraits, non-nude male models, or photos of men in public have been either recharacterized as “restricted” NIPSA accounts or have been deleted entirely. In one case, a professional photographer who focused on non nude beefcake type male models, Edelson Flores, had his entire photostream deleted with Flickr citing the fact that he was posting other people’s work as their reasoning. Flores has denied that his stream contained photos that were not his and in fact had his own copyright watermark over every photo in his stream.

In a post on the new “Flickr is Fascist” blog they point out specifically what they feel is a double standard when it comes to Flickr’s deletion of candid photos of males in public in the post “Flickr has Issues With the Male Body:

“A community of ‘candid’ photographers of men in public situations (all of whom have paid for their accounts in good faith) has been displaced and silenced on photo-sharing site Flickr in less than a fortnight. Four prominent photostreams as well as countless photos vanished from July 6th 2009 to July 13th 2009 without warning or right to appeal. At least one site had over a million hits in less than a year. Flickr has stubbornly refused to give a reason for its recent axe-grinding mission against these sites, but one user was given the reason ‘voyeur content’ after more than 8 days of asking for a reason yet that particular site contained pictures of men in public which is legal. Flickr has refused to expand on the reason it gave, but cited its ambiguous and open-ended ‘Don’t be creepy’ clause in its Terms of Service asjustification for terminating at least one photostream. Flickr has also silenced debate about the issue on its Help Forum. When confronted with whether or nor the famous Robert Doisineau candid image of the kissing couple in Paris was voyeur content or simply a candid street photo, Flickr immediately closed the thread and banned the user from challenging Flickr’s inability to define ‘voyeur content’ as opposed to candid content. Disturbingly Flickr has refused to reopen the debate. Another thread ‘ Flickr’s new anti-gay policy’ was also closed in a mater of hours. Is it a a coincidence that the many candid men sites were closed within a week? Flickr silent wall of automated e-mails will never let you know.”

It will be interesting to see if this new blog or other public criticism of Flickr’s censorship policies will in fact have any impact on the account deletions that seem to be taking place almost daily on the site.

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24 Comments

  1. Good. The more people who point out Flickr’s flawed practices, the more likely they will be forced to change their ways.

  2. Holy crap… I can’t believe they just banned you from their forums. This might be the final straw for me. Pondering options now…

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Aaron, apparently merely reporting on the fact that someone has started a “Flickr is Fascist Blog,” and it definitely was *not* me who started the blog, is enough to have you silenced by Flickr staff.

    Ironically all I did was post a link to a new anti-Flickr blog about account deletions and censorship in an actual flickr help forum thread about, well, account deletions and censorship.

    I also object to Heather calling my criticism as “abusive” towards staff and other members. Abusive is such a loaded and almost libelous term. Calling your critics “abusive” and then locking them out of the forum to defend themselves doesn’t seem right to me.

  4. I think the line about “history of open feedback” is pretty funny as well. Since when is Flickr “open” about anything? They delete users with no warning, censor threads, and use abusive language toward their critics.

    I wish there was a real alternative to Flickr, but right now, there just isn’t an equivalent.

  5. John says:

    So pleased to find they have finally banned you, a big mouth with a major chip on your shoulder.
    Could it be they succeeded whilst your pale imitation flounders.
    No, surely you wouldn’t be so childish.

  6. chookless head says:

    Thomas Hawk is an idiot. Anyone who accepts what he says has surrendered their critical faculties. Instead of blindly accepting the assertions of loonies about flickr you should devote some time to analysing whether or not Hawk’s headless chicken routine has any validity.

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  8. Flickr and ebay are both proof that no matter how sweetness and light a company starts out, once it has monopoly power it WILL turn abusive. Because it has no incentive not to.

    Although in regards to gays, I have to wonder if it isn’t more about a group of homophobes on a crusade to file abusive complaints against plausibly gay material rather than the evil originating within flickr.

  9. Tapani says:

    Thomas, do tell us also how come you no longer disclose that you are the CEO of a direct competitor to Flickr?

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    Tapani. I wouldn’t consider Zooomr a “competitor” to Flickr at this point. There’s not much development being done there at present and I haven’t spoken with Kristopher in months. Since Kristopher moved to Japan a few years ago and took Zooomr in a different direction than I wanted to I’ve actually been involved very little in the site. It’s not something that I’ve spent any time at at all in a while. I always had hoped that Zooomr could turn out to be a wonderful stock photography vehicle for amateur photographers but that never materialized. Given my lack of involvement in the site in a long time, given that I get more traffic on my own individual flickr stream than the entire site of zooomr gets on any given day, I just don’t really see Zooomr as being a viable competitor to Flickr and hence don’t feel the need to continually bring it up every time I blog about Flickr.

    Someone other than me perhaps put it better comparing Flickr to Hewlett Packard and Zooomr to the guy who builds his own little DIY computers himself on the weekend in his garage.

    It really is too bad actually because I had much bigger hopes for Zooomr.

  11. d700 doug says:

    While I am no fan of gay porn nudes or clothed I do support the rights of those who wish to post or view these photos.

    The internet was supposed bring a new age of freedom and communication but it looks like the same old repressive forces are at work here.

    I wonder what lobby groups placed pressure on Flickr to modify their policy ?

    The right wing fundies or the chinese communists :-) it is quite funny that they both have the same narrow moral outlook !

  12. photography says:

    Thanks for your info.

  13. dave says:

    Its time to move on to more artistic oriented sharing. Flickr is just too easy come easy go , its geared towards middle of the road enthusiasts. But where to go ? I mean there needs to be a serious flickr for people who would never post snapshots of their plants or pets as fine art….

    I was thinking jpg mag, but who knows….

  14. Rick says:

    @dave: I think there’s a slippery slope there. How do you encourage “serious photography” or moderate submissions against such criteria, without simultaneously encouraging the development of an elitist community that identifies anyone who doesn’t conform and runs them out of town?

  15. Tapani says:

    Thomas, you’re absolutely right that calling Zooomr a viable direct competitor to Flickr is probably a stretch at this point. As such, I can certainly understand why you would want to distance yourself from what appears to be a failed site.

    However, that does not change the fact that Zooomr’s About page continues to very prominently list you as the CEO and Chief Evangelist, complete with a mugshot and a bio blurb, with a link back to this blog.

    I find that contradiction very surprising given how blog normally paints a stark good-vs-evil / jedi-vs-sith contrast between two sides of the argument. That is, you vs. security guards, you vs. museums, you vs. Flickr staff, and so on.

    If you are indeed no longer associated from Zooomr, I would encourage you to make that a clean break to clear up any notions of conflict of interest. As it stands, you’re about as clean as Arrington, and that’s not a compliment.

  16. Thomas Hawk says:

    Tapani. Nowhere do I hide my association with Zooomr and many people who know me and read this blog know this. It’s also prominently featured on both my about me page here as well as in my flickr profile. That said, I don’t think the guy who makes PCs in his garage on the weekend for no profit (and I’ve never seen a dime of profit from zooomr) needs to state every time he criticizes Dell or HP that he makes PCs in his garage on the weekends and sells them for no profit.

    Your point is a red herring and it’s a typical ad hominem attack to attack the person giving the message while not substantively addressing the message itself ala your “Michael Arrington” statement.

    I don’t consider Zooomr a direct competitor to Flickr at this point. I’ve never tried for one minute though to in any way distance myself from any affiliation with Zooomr.

    The fact is that I’ve been blogging about Flickr well before Zooomr and have blogged about it for years. What Zooomr does is sort of inconsequential to this entire conversation about censorship at Flickr.

    And while we are disclosing things here Tapani. Who do you work for? And have you had any relationships with Flick or worked on Flickr related products for another company? You seem so eager to make some obscure point about disclosure but so unwilling to disclose your affiliations. Seems like a bit of double standard there doesn’t it Pal?

  17. Thomas Hawk says:

    Tapani, what happened? Where did you go? You don’t want to disclose any affiliation you have with Flickr? Let me be more direct. Do you work for Flickr? Seems like a fair question given your insistence that I bring up Zooomr every time I mention Flickr.

  18. See-ming Lee says:

    For fear for being silenced… can I remove my previous post? I’ll type a lighter version on friendfeed instead…

  19. See-ming Lee says:

    Fyi,

    I recently had some trouble with how Flickr defined something as needing to be marked as moderated / restricted as well–given that I have taken many photographs from gay public events in New York. Here’s an official reply which I find to be questionable:

    [quote]
    Bare chested men is fine to be marked as “safe”.
    Skintight underwear/shorts/swim trunks, etc.. images need
    to be marked as “restricted”.
    [/quote]

    By definition, this suggests that all photos taken at the beach, as well as all Olympics swimming + diving events need to be marked restricted. To which the Flickr staff replied by stating:

    [quote]
    Regardless of where an image is taken, it needs to be moderated.
    [/quote]

  20. Tapani says:

    Hi Thomas,

    I did not “go anywhere”. Contrary to what you may believe, my life does not revolve around your blog, nor am I in the least phased by your insinuation that I might be a secret Flickr operative out to mastermind a grand conspiracy against the legendary TH.

    I have been reading your blog for a long time, and I do respect your opinions on photographer’s rights, idiotic museum rules, gadgets, and so on. As such, I am well aware of your track record vis-a-vis Flickr and Zooomr, which was my point exactly.

    My original point was quite simply just asking clarification on the disappearance of your disclaimer about being the CEO of Zooomr since you used to do that quite diligently in the past especially in relation to any postings critical of Flickr. I would call that “disclosing a conflict of interest”. Instead you chose to treat my question as an ad hominem attack, and responded quid pro quo plus upped the ante with an accusation of double standard.

    OK, you asked so I’ll go first. You next.

    I most definitely do NOT work for Flickr nor even Yahoo at large. I work for Adobe Systems yet I loathe to admit that – not because I don’t enjoy the company and the job – but because I explicitly do NOT speak for them since that is not why they pay me. The product I work on (Photoshop.com) does in fact interface with Flickr. However, it also interfaces with Facebook, Google Picasa, and Photobucket, to name just a few, so I would be hard pressed to qalify that as “affiliation”. In fact, on a more personal note I would very much like to interface it with Smugmug, Pbase, and Zooomr. I even tried to approach Zooomr but there was never a response.

    Now, since you asked, would you care to re-state *your* true identity and affiliations?

    No, I don’t mean the fake pen name “Thomas Hawk” or the Zooomr role, everyone already knows those. Your true name is easy enough to find with Google. So how about your true employer? The one that pays the bills that is. Since it is apparently in the financial industry, clients and investment portfolio would be highly relevant data points here as well. Claiming that it operates in an unrelated industry would have been awfully convenient if only you hadn’t upped that ante with double standard. And if it truly is unrelated industry, then what exactly is your point in writing under a pen name? Let alone acting as the CEO of a company that same assumed name. That would make annual reports very interesting reading, I’m sure.

    Back on my original point. I never disputed the assertion that Flickr may be behaving like jerks. In fact, evidence strongly suggests so. I merely asked you to clarify what appears to be a serious conflict of interest using your widely read blog to proliferate news negative to Flickr: you stand to gain from any loss of customers from Flickr, however immaterial that may be to Flickr considering their size. Surely you are familiar with the concept of conflict of interest, coming from the financial industry?

    While we’re at it, do spare us that garbage about the little guys in a garage bitching about the big guys being harmless. Google was two guys in a garage not too long ago. So was H-P. I’m sure they bitched about “the man”, too.

    In the end, you are obviously free to ignore my mere suggestion to eliminate that apparent conflict of interest. I do not think there’s anything else to discuss.

  21. Thomas Hawk says:

    Tapani. My employer is Stone & Youngberg. You can get my phone number from a simple “who is” search for my domain. Your insinuation that I’m somehow hiding this or that it has any relevance to the discussion at hand is a stretch. If you’d like you can call me on my cell phone too. That number is 415-205-3611.

    The product I work on (Photoshop.com) does in fact interface with Flickr.

    That’s good to know. I haven’t tried that product yet. So when you are attacking someone who is critical of Flickr, for very good reason might I add, why do you think it’s not important to disclose that? Are you friends with people on the Flickr staff? What role in working with the Flickr interface are you a part of?

  22. Tapani says:

    I’ll just address the specific questions since it would be rude of me to leave without answering baseless insinuations.

    > So when you are attacking someone who is critical of Flickr, for very good reason might I add, why do you think it’s not important to disclose that?

    No. You clearly established on Aug 12 that stating one’s affiliations, if tenuous enough, are not important to disclose. I believe we also covered the subject of double standards.

    As for that tenuous part…

    > Are you friends with people on the Flickr staff?

    No. I am NOT friends with people on the Flickr staff. In fact, I have never even talked to anyone on the Flickr staff. Oh no wait, I did once sit in the audience during a conference talk on the evolution of Flickr’s server equipment. I did not have a chance to ask any questions so perhaps that won’t count?

    > What role in working with the Flickr interface are you a part of?

    My role would be that of an engineering manager whose team wrote the software that interfaces with the Flickr public API. That is, we can pull an image out of Flickr, edit it, and then put it back where it came from. Just like we do with images via the APIs of Picasa, Photobucket, and Facebook, like I already stated. Since you appear unfamiliar with technology (despite http://bit.ly/a9gXC), I’ll just state that this does not usually involve actual human contact: just reading the API docs and writing code. If that is still unclear, I’m sure Kristopher can explain.

    Anyhow, you have now unsuccessfully made 3 attempts to establish a sinister plot between me and Flickr so I’m starting to feel like a slacker on the ad hominem front. I did not think it would be this hard for you to grok that other people besides yourself might feel strongly enough about an issue to pursue it. Let’s just say that you have established your policy quite clearly and leave it at that, mmkay?

  23. Kelli Garner says:

    Great site, how do I subscribe?

  24. Rhyslewis says:

    As someone who has, quite unfairly, had their name featured several times in the Flickr is Fascist Blog, and who knows who the perpetrator is I can understand why Flickr would want to protect it’s users in this way. The person behind it not only has a malicious personal vendetta against certain people on the site but also promotes the censorship, deletion and suspension of other peoples accounts in order to reinforce their own arguments.

    Whilst I appreciate that there are certain issues that Flickr needs to address in terms of it’s policy, the way it deals with complaints, and the behavior of its members I am relieved that they have at least taken steps to try an give some protection to those named there.

    It is not a pleasant feeling to be implicated in fascist activity when anyone who knows me or my stream will know that simply is not true. I have had continual bullying, aggression, harassment and abuse from the person from a number of maliciously created accounts on Flickr, which of course there is little they can do about. This has transpired over a period of more than a year. I have a full record now, including this blog which, having taken legal advice, I now have to take to the UK Police and report as gross harassment.

    So, in short, whilst you may feel you have been unfairly treated, I would plead that you consider that there are other victims here. Whilst you may agree with some of the views in the Blog I urge you not to take them at face value. It has been set up, not only to catalog Flickr issues, but also to personally attack its members based on personal vendettas.