censorship at flickr (again)

14 06 2007


(Logo by Cem Basman)

Somehow one should seem to get used to censorship on flickr. Has it been NIPSAd accounts regarding Second Life snapshots, so it’s now a safe search which you cannot disable as german resident.

The safe search functionality has been introduced while getting rid of NIPSA as part of the new filtering mechanism. You now have to flag photos which might offend (such as nudity) with appropriate flags. As viewer you can then decide which photos you want to see as result of a search (e.g. if you want photos marked as moderate or restricted, too).

With the advent of the internationalization of flickr, users from Germany, Singapure, Hong Kong and Korea now have a localized version but in turn they are not able to disable the safe search functionality because of the terms of service.

To me it’s still not really clear why they did that but in fact they did (it might have to do with some decision at Yahoo though, maybe somebody can elaborate).

After many protests on some flickr groups (as e.g. here).

After a while Stewart Butterfield of flickr responded with this statement:

We really apologize for the delay in responding to these threads. The whole Flickr team has been in ongoing discussions, trying to hammer out a solution.

We have absolutely no intention of censoring the content on the community’s behalf. It is always been our intention that Flickr members participate to whatever extent they want and are as free as possible create their own experience. Currently, switching the SafeSearch function off is not available for German members. It is a really complex situation — we have been in deliberation on this for a while, and we had to make the decision whether or not to leave Germany and the German language out of the international launch.

The decision came down to the wire, but we decided to include Germany. We’re still hoping that that was the right decision. It definitely was not a decision that was made lightly and there is no intention to annoy, frustrate or inconvenience Flickr members in Germany. Rest assured, we do hear you loud and clearly (painfully loud, even) and are doing our best. We hope to have more to say soon.

So he doesn’t really say something.

Now I wonder

  • why is Germany (and the other countries) so special, why aren’t we allowed to see e.g. photos containing nudity if we choose to do so?
  • why is this bound to the internationalization? If we wouldn’t have e.g. a german version we would still be allowed to see all content?
  • why isn’t this communicated earlier. “german version” sounded cool but a german version with only safe search doesn’t. And we didn’t had a problem before with an english version. It’s definitely worse now than before.

And unfortunately everybody is on flickr which created that great community. I was searching for alternatives back then in the NIPSA-case but there weren’t really that many. Also getting the community to move completely to another service is probably not possible.

Too bad, flickr always makes trouble.. I just bought my pro account for my Tao Takashi account but now I think it was a mistake. Maybe I shouldn’t trust flickr in doing the right thing. So far I got disappointed twice.

(german version here)

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10 responses

14 06 2007
Vint

Hmmm. That indeed sucks. Curious which ‘you’re responsible for the content’ German law and which ‘evil content’ they are trying to duck. Keep us posted?

14 06 2007
Ordinal Malaprop

Very peculiar if you ask me. Surely there aren’t any regulations which forbid German citizens from looking at pictures of rude bits on the internet, and make the carrier responsible for enforcing this?

14 06 2007
Ordinal Malaprop

“Unfortunately I can’t give a more detailed update yet or any concrete good news, but please don’t take our silence to mean that nothing is happening. We are doing our best to make the situation better as quickly as possible. I’m sure it doesn’t make a lot of sense from the outside, and we would prefer to be able to share all the context — believe me, this is extremely uncomfortable and we’d *strongly* prefer not to be in this position — but we don’t have a choice at this time.

“Again, we will post more as soon as we can — in the meantime, all we can do is apologize. ”

All very cryptic.

14 06 2007
taotakashi

indeed. I wonder why Germany is always so special.. and I definitely want to know the context.

16 06 2007
littleman Oddfellow

Well, it seems that much of the curent bruhaha over content in SL started with some german law that says that even little cartoon ppl doing naughty things is porno! This has evidently gotten other sites like Flickr concerned about liability and criminality. It is a German problem because German law started the whole mess. For recourse, please see your duely elected representatives.

16 06 2007
taotakashi

that might be true but why can’t they talk about it then?

Here is another update, btw: http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/42597/page16/#reply230304

and here: http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/42597/232778/

so basically nothing new to add..

16 06 2007
taotakashi

and another update. It seems that flickr noch also has removed those protest photos from the explore page. So the protest is not really visible anymore (it was though for 2-3 days).

Stewart says:

Yep – we started getting complaints from people who actually want to see photographs and since that’s what the feature is for, we’ve removed things that aren’t photos. This is a return what we normally do, by the way: we temporarily stopped so people could let off steam, but it’s not fair to disrupt others’ experience of Flickr to get a point across.

Plainly, not all “traces” of the protest are gone. Your own streams are fair game (and, e.g., I’m happy to leave people’s protest pics in comments on my stream), plenty of groups have been created, there’s plenty of mainstream press and blogging going on, and there is an intensely active thread in these very forums, which is covering this same topic, starting at this point in the thread.

18 06 2007
Vint

But it’s not fair to disrupt others’ experience of Flickr to get a point across. => Maybe they should add another content type? ‘photographs’, ‘art illustration’, ‘screenshots’ and ‘protests’.

18 06 2007
taotakashi

Well, depends.. if you protest and nobody notices, it’s sort of a lame protest😉 I mean the same usually happens in SL.. if I remember last years birthday party, we also had a lot of protesters there (and some people were pissed by this).

But well, it lasted at least 2-3 days in the explore page, so maybe that’s ok.. now the protest will be most likely in the form of leaving flickr (and maybe also the other yahoo buys, like del.icio.us, upcoming etc. at least for them there are alternatives).

20 06 2007
Vint

There was a little amount of irony in my previous comment.😉 As those pictures reach the explore page they should not be removed. It means those are getting most views/comments/best tags/whatever else is in that algorythm and as Flickr defined that algorythm themselves, they should live with the consequences.😉

Vint’s idea: if you protest, make sure people notice! *grins*

I think not many will leave Flickr, as lot’s of people have payed for ‘Pro’ accounts.

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