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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nuts to Flickr Censorship

Nuts to censorship

Another photographer on Flickr had has his stuff censored this week and his entire stream set to Moderate. This time it wasn't me, it was Andrew Houser , an awesome photographer and the creator of the incredibly popular Flickr Leech site - which is fantastic for browsing Flickr in a wider way with broader swaths of images at once.

Thomas Hawk has a long post about it on his page excerpting emails from Houser, and after reading it, I agree with him completely. I think it was probably a slap on the wrist - all be it a large one - for the Leech API maybe not being 100% with the TOS. But, the API wasnt pulled which would be the norm, and instead his account was censored. It is censorship. No other way of cutting it.

As some of you may recall, it has happened to me in the past. Last time it was in 2006 around Christmas time. Someone complained about two shots where a nipple was visibly 'pointy' through the fabric of the shirt or blouse in two portraits of two different models... Since then, anything with even a hint of partial nudity, or even something that wouldn't be good in church - as was described to me as a good guideline - I have set to Moderate. And tagged the images when I remember with something like "Set to Moderate to make sure the flowers and kittens crowd don't burst into flames..." and chipmunk crowd too I guess since I don't have any kitten pics at my disposal and didn't want to steal any for this post.

Germans can't see Restricted images because their government says they can't, so Yahoo/ Flickr set all German accounts to being able to view or post Safe or Moderate flagged images... A good part of the Middle East can't see anything unless they go through anonymizing servers in a third country on their way to Flickr... And members like Andrew Houser get singled out and censored when there have to be tens of thousands of porn accounts full of stolen images floating around on Flickr that they should be dedicated to sorting out first. I think I have somewhere upwards of 400 blocked so far and I continue to block accounts like that daily.

Given what I shoot now and then, nudity is not a big deal to me personally. It is just part of the human condition. And if you are uploading your own images and not stolen web content, and flagging them appropriately, it should be fine. But Flickr seems to think that people will get twitchy when they see someone, for example, not wearing a bra as it is somehow sexualizing the woman, and anyone seeing it will go to their respective versions of hell in a Jimmy Swaggart- esque "I have sinnned..." sort of way.

The site is great for sharing pics, but it gets tougher and tougher to share creative work to a wide audience without thinking that that one image out of three billion (yes there are now three billion images on flickr) will cause someone to report you and maybe have your entire page censored or account shut down and deleted without warning. As a side note, I wonder if that is a) the three billionth upload or the current three billionth image -because thousands of accounts and millions of images have come and gone since Flickr's inception. And b) if it was actually the real three billionth image. What if the actual image was a Moderate or Restricted image? I know they wouldn't show that. That three billionth image is nothing special, but it has had over 17,000 views and nearly 400 comments on Flickr in about 10 days now since it was blogged by Flickr. Something a lot of people would do anything for...

Flickr is a fantastic place to share pics, learn about photography and to meet other incredible photographers from all around the world. I don't think that my opinion of this has changed at all since joining the site a few years ago. But it certainly has in terms of some aspects of how they administer our community. The real problem is that there is no equal, no parallel to Flickr in terms of an image sharing site or community online. So to leave it would be to leave posting images in a highly visible way to a wide audience. I hear Ipernity is a good upstart photo sharing site, and people usually leave Flickr for there, but I don't know...

Flickr needs to chill a bit, and step back from the whole going after legit photographers like Houser - and many others, and re-double or quadruple their efforts in cleaning up the copyright infringers and web image posters. Staff are quite fast at it but it is something that is really out of control on the site. In comparison, the odd boobie isn't so much of a big deal. Really. Is it?


Mike Wood Photography

*** EDIT: Flickr un Moderated his account. but all images with models as he puts it in this post here will be flagged as Restricted (a setting usually related to sexual content, not just nudity), so anyone in Germany will be outtaluck. :/

1 comment:

Skye Shelly said...

The censorship on Flickr is very frustrating. Sometimes I can't believe that they censor the artistic photographers, but allow all the homemade porn that others post.....

As you know, I have my issues with them too.

Nice to see you around here, Mike. :)
Happy Blogging.