I subscribe to an RSS feed of pictures from a Flickr user called Malingering. Malingering lives in Los Angeles, and she takes pictures of her cats, of baseball games, and of badly-dressed people out in public.
It’s a strange mix, but it works. There are possibly a few too many cat pictures; most of the cat pictures are great, but I get the impression that some of them only work if you are personally acquainted with the cats in question.
Anyway, as of today, Malingering reports that Flickr have restricted some of her photos. Among other things, they’ve said:
We’ve placed your account under the category “public”/”restricted”. You’re welcome and encouraged to moderate your content on a photo by photo level, while keeping our Community Guidelines and FAQ for content filters in mind.
Your account has been classified as “restricted” by the Flickr team given the sexualized nature of the content in your photostream.
Now, this is ridiculous. As she points out in her post about this, all of her pictures that aren’t of her cats are taken in public places. Here are some of the photos that are not visible to members of the public unless they have turned ‘safe search’ off:
At least one cat picture is on the restricted list now, too.
On the other hand, this is visible to anyone, at least for now.
What’s going on here is that someone who has a problem with Malingering has complained to Flickr, and Flickr has blindly reacted.
Flickr is — or it seems to be — run by good people. There have been a few bumps since the Yahoo acquisition, presumably as a result of things being reorganized and responsibilities shifting, but on the whole it seems like they’ve been trying to do the right thing — as they must, because as good as Flickr is, people will migrate somewhere else if it becomes a pain in the ass to use.
But in the meantime, these screwups are annoying; though I’m sure that Malingering’s photos will be off the blacklist in a few days’ time, things like this will cause at least some people to second-guess what they’re posting, and the value of the overall service will be diminished.
This is precisely why I don’t use Flickr much for my photos. I don’t like entrusting my information to anyone else, because they will screw things up, whether through their own ineptitude or through the blind application of dubious policies. Unfortunately, in the case of Flickr this means that I don’t post as many photos as I otherwise might, because there’s nothing out there that I can run myself that comes close to Flickr’s feature set, even without taking into account the considerable value of the large number of photos all in the same namespace of tags etc.