Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Censored on Flickr


I received an email from flickr support staff on January 5th, 2008 telling me my entire account had been set to Moderate because of someone complaining about Violet's 'Curve' image above and a couple others... Apparently that image is against the community guidelines specifically as the rep wrote that "as the "safe" area of the Flickr site must be free of all frontal/rear nudity, thong/butt/pastie shots, sexualized content, etc..." and that apparently includes models that are fully dressed and wearing more than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or the ads in Vogue.

So I had to manually sift through my images and reflag all 100 nudes or semi nudes or not nudes at all apparently and make sure they were set to Moderate. The other 2200 images in my account - including the whales and cars and mountains were blocked to casual viewing outside of flickr till I did. I even tossed in a couple more like Violet's image to made sure I didn't offend the gods or the flowers and bunnies crowd.

Where will this stop? I can see on some levels how nipples may offend kids who have never breast fed or not been to a nude beach or taken a shower before. But a bum? My work for the most part is not 'porn' - some is erotic at best/worst. And yet the people who send me friend invites and have their cum shots, anal sex and so on in their images are still counted as SAFE because Flickr can't police what there. Only chase people who are artists when someone is offended by Venus deMilo or David like nudity. When you as a user complain it is well known that Flickr will often send a response back saying that you need to know how to manage filters or block users... So why can't users who don't like nudity.... not look? Don't watch some cable channels late at nite if nudity bothers you. change the channel. Don't look at my photos or the groups that permit nudity on Flickr if it bothers you. Don't be a pain in my ass and rat on me because you think thats the way to 'clean up' Flickr.

Do a search sometime on Flickr when not logged into flickr - say for NUDE - and you come up with 137,000 images by that tag alone (none of my nudes were ever found that way). And yet a fully clothed albeit sensual image of Violet gets my account blacked out to the world till I play nice? Fair? No. Any of those images -albeit some very artistic- should mean their owner should be locked down like I was...

I however have to play by the rules or the next time my account could be locked down permanently. And I am not about to rat out the artists whose work I enjoy and have their nudes set as safe just to make a "he is doing it too!" point a la McCarthyism. But every nasty banging your wife, hairy crotch image I see that might be an unflagged image will be reported. I have done it quite a few times over the past couple of weeks now. .

Where does this vanilla or Yahooization of flickr end? As it is seen in the Middle East, if someone complains there that one of my images of a woman doesn't contain a head scarf, do they bow to that lowest common denominator?

Really. I have been on Flickr since 2005. Been a paid Pro account that long too. and I have seen some changes.... but this is almost enough for me to throw in the towel when a non nude non sexual image gets flagged. It makes me hesitate when posting now and my views have suffered considerably in the past few weeks. Flickr has a stats tool that can measure agregate views of your page and I was averaging somewhere in the 8-10000 views a day for most of December and into early January and now if it hits 1200 a day its a surprise. They turned my account back on after several hours and several back and forth emails, but I am convinced - though this can not be proven, that there is some subtle censoring or images placed in a holding queue prior to them being seen by everyone. Images that would have received hundreds and hundreds of views are getting next to none. Same for comments. I can go now many many hours without a comment and before that was only happening middle of the night Eastern time.

My web site does not generate anywhere near the views or the traffic that Flickr does for me, and until it is more of a viable commercial entity I won't give up on Flickr. But it has certainly left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth and I am not impressed. The comments that I got in relation to the image below which I posted on Flickr were very encouraging and flattering etc. And obviously I am not the only one to have to suffer through the whole uber concervative right wing Puritanization of the site. I long for when it was Canadian and before the Yahooligans took over. Problem is that there is no other site of that scale. Not that is any good at any rate. There is such a strong sense of community with it. Except its now the users, or some of them, against the staff. I am not a militant F the world!!! Flickr user like some out there who are begging to get their accounts deleted... I don't want that. I just don't like my art being censored.

Ironically, I watched The Notorious Bettie Page on the Movie Network a few days ago. Fantastic movie for anyone the history of pin up and semi underground or semi pro photography. Cool photoshoots and behind the scenes and Gretchen Mol was awesome as Bettie. Not quite a spitting image but in some shots damn close... But I digress. It occurred to me that the sort of shoots I do now on occasion were pretty much against the law in the late 40s and 50s in the US. I guess in 50 years there has been some progress... Except on Flickr apparently.

Censored by flickr

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