Flickr and Porn

After Gutenberg � Blog Archive � Our Photo Lines Are Open Jonathan Smith writes over at After Gutenberg about a post that I recently wrote regarding where lines should be drawn with regards to sexually suggestive material on Flickr:

“Those who know me know my inclination to point to the author’s use of the word, “but”. It is used to discount the preceding statement. In other words, Thomas Hawks on some level is saying that he does want Flickr to become a porn free-for-all. I would submit that, no matter who might be viewing such images or what might be the desires of the majority, there are other Flickr members in agreement with the allowance of sexually suggestive and even hardcore pornographic images on Flickr (Flickr Porn), or at least more liberal photo policing that allows “edgier” images.”

Actually Jonathan, I disagree. I most definitely do not want at any level for Flickr to become a porn free-for-all. I just feel that the lines between porn and art may not be as clearly defined as some would suggest.

The difficult thing with Flickr and porn is that in many cases porn has become has become increasingly determined within a community context. In San Francisco where I live there would be those who might watch our infamous Bay to Breakers and find a nude runner to be porn. What you can do in San Francisco, run the Bay to Breakers naked, you would be thrown in jail for most likely in Omaha. There are many who might view the signs at Columbus and Broadway as porn. San Franciscans might see the signage as more of a colorful aspect of a neighborhood on the other hand. And thus different communities create tolerance levels for their citizens. Certainly San Franciscans in general might view porn on Flickr differently than someone in Indiana. And please keep in mind that I’m saying generally. Exceptions abound.

So with Flickr though the context of geography is gone. I can be in Italy or Omaha or Brazil or San Francisco and am part of something where the central tie is being passionate about photography and this is where it gets difficult for the Flickr police.

I have seen some amazing photography of nudes that I would not classify as porn — really well done artistic statements about things like beauty and passion and life. The human body is at the most basic level life. This is not porn to me but I’m still not sure it’s the best thing for a 12 year old to be looking at. So this becomes the challenge for Flickr.

Recently I was invited to join a group at Flickr called necrophilia. I’d never not joined a group that I was invited to but have not joined. In the “About” section on the group it bills itself as a group with an abnormal fondness for being in the presence of dead bodies, obsessive fascination with death. It then goes on to list subjects like annihilation, anthesis of life, bereavement, casualty, cessation, curtains, darkness… etc. Although the dictionary.com definition of “erotic attraction to or sexual contact with corpses,” was not included, frankly when I saw the group initially that’s the thought that came to mind.

On the other hand, I like to take photos in cemeteries.

Should a group called necrophilia be allowed at Flickr? Would you be comfortable with answering the question what is necrophilia for your 10 year old? Should 10 year olds not be allowed to look at Flickr? Could parental controls be set up for Flickr? And who, most significantly draws the line between what is porn and what is photographic art?

These are not easy questions, but questions that need to be dealt with nonetheless and it will be interesting to see how Flickr and Yahoo! work it all out.

But Jonathan, I most certainly do not want, nor do I think most of Flickr’s other members want, Flickr to turn into a porn free for all at any level. I just don’t think the issue is as black and white as you may is all. The line between porn and art has been blurred for ages. Although I probably prefer the edgier stuff I can appreciate that you might not want to see it and that there is not a good mechanism at Flickr to filter it out for you.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    this is so not artistic.

  2. Pranav Shah says:

    Hi, I would like to know about the Flickr plugin on your sidebar where the thumbnails keep on zooming in and out, i think its really neat. Please tell me where do i get it?

    u can email me on pranav29@gmail.com