Flickr Censors User Over Images of… Mannequins?
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:
This is an automatically generated copy of a help case reply:
Content like the examples below from your photostream still need to be moderated.
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.