Flickr from Yahoo! Censors Inoffensive Basketball Video, Calls Censorship “Error”

Why does Flickr from Yahoo! always want to hate on basketball?

Take a look at the Youtube video above. It’s pretty boring in my opinion, just a few guys playing basketball. Nothing to see here, right folks? Move along.

Apparently somebody somewhere from the censorship division at Flickr from Yahoo though felt that this video needed to be removed. The user who uploaded the video tried to go through the proper Flickr from Yahoo channels to figure out just why in the blazes somebody would want to delete his inoffensive video and what follows feels like a scene straight out of Abbott and Costello.

==== From Flickr ========

Hello atchang_2001,

As per our Community Guidelines, “restricted” video content is not allowed on Flickr . We’ve removed your video.

If you continue to upload videos that contain “restricted” content, we may take further action on your account.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hi, could you tell me which video you removed (title or filename and the set that it was from) and what was the “restricted” content? On Aug 12, all I uploaded were a lot of videos of my friends playing basketball (pretty poorly I admit, but I don’t see how that is restricted).

Thank you!

==== From Flickr ========

Thank you for contacting Flickr Member Support.

The best places to refer for clarification on what is and is not allowed are the Community Guidelines and Terms of Use. We cannot reinterpret these documents but staying within the letter and spirit of these terms and guidelines is the best way to maintain a happy and healthy Flickr account.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hi, can you tell me which video was removed (filename and what set it was in).

==== From Flickr ========

The video that was removed was the one that has violated
the Terms of Service.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hello, yes I understand it violated your ToS… but I uploaded over fifty videos during the time frame in questions and it is difficult to be to figure which one was removed on my side.

Can you please tell me the name of the video that was removed. If possible what set the video was in would also be helpful.

==== From Flickr ========

Thank you for contacting Flickr Member Support.

I am very sorry but at this time, we can’t release this
sort of data.

Thank you for your interest in Flickr.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

Hello, I wish this case to be escalated to a more senior representative in an effort to have this matter resolved. To summarize the situation:

1. On the morning of August 12, 2009. I uploaded several dozen videos of my friends and I playing basketball (videos have no sound).
2. A few hours later, I receive an email saying that one of the videos has been removed because it contains restricted content.
3. I wish to know what video was removed (the current representative appears not to be able to tell me what video was removed or why it was labelled as restricted).

Thank you

==== From Flickr ========

Hello atchang_2001,

The file that was removed was the one under file name:

Thank you again for contacting us. If you have any other
questions, please feel free to reply to this email.

==== From atchang_2001 ==========

This video is of four of my friends playing basketball at an outdoor basketball court, it has no sound. Can you or a more senior representative assist me in explaining why this violated the Flickr Community Guidelines so that I can avoid this from happening again?

Thank you,

==== From Flickr ========


To demonstrate that you understand what content in your
photostream is not appropriate for the “safe” areas of the
Flickr site, we ask that you moderate all the public,
private, and friends/family content in your photostream
within the Flickr Community Guidelines.

So, tired of the above game of incompetence, atchang_2001 decided to escalate things and posted his problem and exchange to the Flickr Help forum (where I’m still permanently banned). Finally atchang_2001 got a thinking person’s response to his inquiry. Zack Shepherd (who is probably the best in the customer care department based on my observations, and seems to care more than most of them) fielded the issue saying that the video deletion was probably an error.

From Zack:

“If the video that was removed was the same as the one you linked to than it was taken down in error. Unfortunately you also didn’t get the right response when you initially wrote in and we usually do release the photo/video name. I can assure you there are no bots but as humans we do make mistakes sometimes. I’m sorry that this happened twice on the same case making it even more frustrating.

You are welcome to upload this video again. We are going to circle up with the team to make sure everyone is on the same page.

We’ll also follow up with you directly with more info. “

Flickr by Yahoo! has recently had a horrible rash of censorship problems. From nuking user’s accounts who write critical comments on President Obama’s photostream, to deleting a Professional photographer’s images of clothed male models, to deleting controversial anti-Obama imagery, to kicking me out of the help forum and placing secret flags on some of my inoffensive images to hide them on flickr by Yahoo, to locking down forums where folks post critical comments about their censorship, to censoring photostreams of people because they contain photos of feet — but this one probably takes the cake.

Unfortunately for atchang_2001, the harmless basketball video that he says he uploaded to Flickr that you see above (along with any comments, faves, tags, or other meta data around it) is long gone. See Flickr has no way to restore content that is deleted by their staff even when it’s by mistake. You’d think that this would be a feature that they’d be working on, especially given that former Flickr Chief and co-founder Stewart Butterfield admitted that it was a “mistake” for Flickr not to have this sort of functionality over two years ago. But unfortunately not only do they not have that sort of functionality they are not even working on it — apparently they’ve been too busy working on their new logo for the site to deal with messy little things like protecting user data.

Frankly, the email exchange above is pretty unacceptable. I’m not sure if the problem is Flickr by Yahoo management or simply Flickr by Yahoo’s Censorship Division management, but if Yahoo! is really serious about implementing their marketing hype that the new Yahoo! is “You,” then they should probably consider getting this part of their network cleaned up a little bit. One idea might just be to stop censoring users in the first place. Then you don’t have to worry about mistakes like this happening at all.

Deleting user content should be something that is only done as a measure of last resort, not because some underling in the censorship division didn’t get enough sleep last night or hates anti-Obama imagery or basketball.

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  1. William Beem says:

    I thought Flickr was going to stop deleting content and just replace it with an image explaining that it was deemed inappropriate, so the metadata and content wouldn’t be lost.

    Is that another false promise?

  2. eyebex says:

    “Thank you for your interest in Flickr”

    adding insult to injury

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    William, I thought that’s what they were going to do as well. Apparently that might have been just BS though.

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  5. Yasuri Yamileth says:

    I hate them so much! When will there be an alternative that’s as good or better without any of the censorship and the hassle!! They threaten to delete my account because I had photos of hot guys on the street and basically told me that I had to delete them all or have my account deleted. They wouldn’t even let me keep them as seen only by my contacts or not even private, I had to delete them all from my photostream. I am still so angry at them for that. I can’t even tell you how disappointed and angry I still feel about the whole thing. They’re the ones who take things to a pervy level and then pass judgement on us photographers. I wish I would have just had my own website and never used them.

  6. Rob-L says:

    This has been Yahoo’s MO for years; poor customer service. A few years back I had some trouble with a Yahoo product and got the same crappy customer service. It took me a month to resolve a simple issue. It’s as if no one there cares about their jobs or their customers. Nothing’s changed and now Yahoo has infected what was once a great site/service and dragged it down to mediocrity.

  7. alexander katzeff says:

    This video was shot on Yahoo!’s campus! How ironic is that!?

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  9. It’s a sad shame. They (Flickr by Yahoo) must have “bots” working in the office because any person with common sense would have had this resolved immediately.

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  12. Unfortunately, I can’t favorite the YouTube version of the basketball video. As it turns out, YouTube recently gave me a “your account is permanently disabled message,” wouldn’t tell me why…and then sent a survey asking me how I liked their customer service. It’s disheartening to see that Google isn’t the only company that refuses to provide specifics; sounds like Yahoo has the same problem.

  13. DN says:

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