Flickr Censors User Over Images of… Mannequins?

Montreal Adult Store Display<br />
Update: If you don’t think Flickr should censor photos of mannequins, consider digging this post here. Well I was disappointed to receive emails last week from one of my Flickr contacts James Doiron. James has been a very active Flickr user over the past several years and has maintained the incredibly prolific mannequindisplay photostream. To date James has uploaded over 25,000 images (mostly of mannequins) and has had over 3 million views on his photostream.

I’ve been collecting mannequin images myself for a few years now and have a set of 766 mannequin images at present. A distant runner up to James’ far larger collection.

I was disappointed because recently I’d learned that Flickr had censored 100% of James’ 25,000 plus images by slapping an adult rating on his entire photostream.

What this means is that James’ images are pulled from search and other public site areas of Flickr. He’s essentially buried on Flickr — persona non grata. He goes behind the Flickr wall of shame along with the many other pornographers that call Flickr home. James was obviously disappointed to see the resulting drop off in traffic from his images and wrote in to Flickr to express his dissatisfaction and hope to obtain clarification as to why his stream had been blacklisted.

Here is the email response that he got back from Flickr:

James

Hello, mannequindisplay!

This is an automatically generated copy of a help case reply:

————————-
Hello,

Content like the examples below from your photostream still need to be moderated.

www.flickr.com/photos/31376396@N07/3199683812/

www.flickr.com/photos/mannequindisplay/102386206/

www.flickr.com/photos/mannequindisplay/214518707/

-Terrence

————————-

Now the first thing to point out here is that the first image that Flickr is objecting too isn’t even James’ image. Apparently at Flickr now your own photostream can be held liable for what Flickr considers adult images in streams that are *totally unrelated to you.* The censors at Flickr frequently make mistakes though (just last month they permanently deleted a harmless video of some kids playing basketball for no reason) so let’s chalk their first image objected to as yet another mistake by the underlings in the Flickr Censorship Division.

But the next two images (one posted above)? Really? Flickr is going to classify someone’s entire stream of 25,000+ entirely harmless images as adult content simply because the prudes in the Flickr Censorship Division object to photos of mannequins? Are they joking? Alas, unfortunately they are not.

So what else does having your account labeled as adult mean? Well it means that nobody can include your images in a gallery of any kind. In fact, one of the first galleries I made myself was one of mannequins. I’ve been trying to do one new gallery each day on Flickr but I can’t include any of James’ 25,000+ images because Flickr deems them “too hot to handle.”

The trend of giving mannequins nipples has been going on for a number of years now. Walk by any Victoria’s Secret in America and you’re bound to run into them. if you are into mannequin nipples here’s a few that I’ve taken myself. You can pretty much find them in any mall in America.

Or if you’d rather see one from Flickr Community Manager Heather Champ’s stream you can find that here. Of course some might consider allowing Heather (Flickr Staff) to have uncensored images of mannequin nipples a bit of a Flickr double standard, but why should Flickr staff need to play by the same rules as the rest of us?

Even worse than mannequin nipples, you can find over 1,400 FULLY NUDE mannequins on Flickr simply using the search for nude AND mannequin. Why do these 1,400 people get to show nude mannequins and James can’t show one with covered nipples? Or check out these mannequins in bras and panties from the Flickr blog.

Part of documenting our world means shooting the things that are around us. Part of documenting culture is defining our culture through images. It disappoints me that mannequins, along with sculpture and paintings in museums, now have seemed to raise the ire of the underlings in the Flickr Censorship Division. Apparently that catchy new Yahoo! tagline about the new Yahoo! being all about you, only applies to you if you don’t take photos of mannequins, you freakin pervert.

James reflects more on his recent predicament on Flickr here pointing out some rather obvious points about mannequins here. (number one being, well, they’re not human) Unfortunately you will need to be logged into Flickr and dig deep into your settings to allow pornographic Flickr material if you’d like to read it. Sigh.

Note to Yahoo! execs, the next time you are thinking about layoffs and cost cutting, might I recommend you take a serious look at gutting as much of the Flickr censorship Division as possible. In addition to their cost (salaries/benefits/etc.) they create enormous negative ill will with your paying customers (like James, who is now considering leaving Flickr) and generate a great deal of negative PR for Yahoo! as well. You really gain nothing by censoring 25,000+ images based on a few relatively harmless images buried deep in a user’s photostream. That’s just common sense.

Update: James has posted on his plight regarding the censorship of his mannequins in the Flickr Help Forum here, Flickr has yet to respond to his post. That asshole Ian Sanderson though is quick to defame my credibility which is an especially cowardly act on his part in a forum where he knows I’m banned.

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14 Comments

  1. jaymce says:

    i love that you got the heather double standard in. actually, she was the beginning of the end for flickr, well, for me at least. nothing against her but it was the beginning of the separation of the community and the original team. ironically, the hiring of a community manager spelled the end of the community.

    i consider myself an original flickr old skooler. i was part of the free team way back when and paid for a “professional” account and the interface changed dynamically as they played with new looks. i ermember the “shoebox”. when my paid account lapsed last spring i did not renew. i am not really sure why anyone gives them money anymore. for me, it was just got too big. the team lost touch with the community. how can they STILL substantiate a paid model?

  2. Frank Jonen says:

    That’s just Terrence being an asshole again. Normal behavior for that guy.

  3. Tim says:

    Typical, a good thing slowly being ruined. I have reported Heather’s shockingly offensive image! Partial nudity! Underwear!! It’s so WRONG.

  4. Jim says:

    I’ve just flagged Heather’s image. Let’s see if that gets censored too shall we?

  5. Uwe Mayer says:

    In my case it was the bodypainting pictures flickr thought should be adult content. Only pictures showing women, they were fine with the male bodypainting stuff.
    Which is funny for one reason: I only shot bodypaintings at the World Bodypainting Festival. The event is open for the public, and a lot of parents show up with their children. So there are quite a bit children on the festival ground and it doesn’t seem to harm em. But that’s Europe of course, not the US.

  6. eric says:

    I completely agree with your point of view. But the mannequin in question is tagged with the words, “sex store, naughty toys, sexy school girl, adult shop, adult store”. Personally I couldn’t care less. But the context set by the poster in this case seems to skew it into moderate territory. I have to wonder if it was tagged, simply Mannequin in glasses, would there have been the same censorship taken? Especially considering that the poster made this comment: “you see what happens when you put sex or adult naughty store in the tags it draws them all to it :)” Kind of a stupid move.

  7. James says:

    Is the photo tagged that way … 26000 pictures on flickr as I never looked at this images since I posted it in Aug 2006. I guess leaving that option open so others can add tags was not a good idea

  8. sam says:

    Did you see that the same thing happened recently to flickr-star Sesame Ellis? She has a huge following, but someone was flagging her account (out of spite?) and flickr reacted by censoring her entire account twice. They’ve since apologized to her, but that seems to be an unusual result.

    http://www.racheldevine.com/blog/2009/10/03/everything-in-moderation/

  9. James says:

    Sam very nice story … as for my Tags it’s been awhile as I may added the tags or not but I seriously don’t think it was the tags if it were the tags then he or she must of been looking for sex to find the images in the first place.

    As for Sesame story and everyone else please of please do not rely on on line servers to store your memories . please no. If you want to be safe as external Hard Drives as you can get a TB Drive for around $100 Canadian and copy all your memories to it but always keep double copies. You can always take that drive and keep it at a good friends place or a family member or even a safety deposit box but always keep doubles of your pictures. My tip when I fill up a HD I go out and buy 2 more .. one to copy my images on and the other to back it up..
    sorry for ranting but don’t trust FLickr as they can delete you when every they feel like.

    James

  10. kevin says:

    I say screw Flickr – let’s go back to photoblogs! I “grew up” as a digital photographer in that short period when photoblogs.org was king, before Flickr even existed.

  11. James says:

    Talk about double standards..

    I heard when people report to flickr that any image offends them they take on your behalf and go after the photographer.

    Well from some time this person goes into malls and shooting mannequins up the skirts and calls it sexy. Who knows if he does the same thing with real women as he dares not post that and he’s getting a cheep thrill from doing it. I may find it offensive but that is me so when letting flickr know they didn’t do a thing about it. So my belief there is some strong backing to have me removed from flickr but they can’t delete me as I truly believe they know what they are doing is wrong but something is backing them on this fight as hopping I give in and leave which I am doing anyways but take a look at this SAFE site

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovemannequins/

  12. James says:

    Is there any legal way of making flickr tell you who’s been reporting your stuff offensive?

  13. Paul says:

    It is quite ludicrous in how the system at flickr works via-vis the &quot;flagging&quot; system. Often it is nothing more than a Salem Witch trial and a free for all for losers and miscreants to tamper with other members activity. It’s not like the so called offending members are advocating the eating of BabyMeat.
    http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2008/07/atheists-eat-babies.html

  14. […] Hawk talks a little about Flickr’s seemingly nonsensical censorship and obscenity […]