Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flickr Censorship

Apparently someone complained about at least one of my Fremont Solstice Parade photos, or the photos finally reached a popularity level so that Flickr noticed them.

Either way, this morning, Flickr informed me that they had marked all my photos as "restricted" without any precise reasoning:

Hello Sotosoroto,

We've changed the safety level of your photostream to "restricted".

As per [sic] our Community Guidelines, content like that in your account is not considered "safe" for everyone to view. You may or may not be aware that Flickr has a Safe Search system. When people browse or search on Flickr, they can filter what they see based on a safety level that they are comfortable with - either Safe Search is on, set to moderate, or off. In order for Safe Search to work, we relying on *you* to filter your content appropriately. As you upload stuff to Flickr, you need to make sure that you're applying appropriate filters (safe, moderate or restricted) and telling us what sort of content it is (photos, video, screenshots, art & illustration). If you don't apply filters correctly, there's a very good chance another member will let us know - in fact that's why we've taken action today. (No need to be upset - it's every member's right to let us know if they ever feel uncomfortable. Yours too.)

We want Flickr to be a place that everyone can enjoy. That means making sure that potentially offensive content is filtered from public, safe areas of the site. If you read our Community Guidelines, you'll see the key points are: play nice, upload things that you have created yourself, and respect the fact that there are millions of people visiting Flickr who may not see the world the same way you do. Use your common sense about whether or not your content is suitable for a global, public audience. If the answer is no, you need to filter it from public view.

You should also know that if we receive another report about your content or conduct, it's very likely we'll terminate your account.

So, please take a moment to find out how to work with safety levels, use 'em, and everybody's happy!

Flickr Staff

Since I could guess that they were talking about the nude photos from the Fremont parade, I sent them this query:
What can I do to change my overall level from restricted back to safe?

I have a few dozen photos of nude men and women, but those were taken during a parade on a city street with thousands of men, women, and children in attendence, so I left them as safe.

Flickr's reply (in part):
All sexualized/nude content in your photostream needs to be classified as "restricted".

To which I asked:
Why do non-sexualized nudes need to be "restricted"?
What's flickr's definition of "nude," by the way?

Flickr's replies:
The Flickr filters are set up so that Flickr users can choose whether they are comfortable with seeing nude content or not.
Nude/sexualized content = Female breasts, bare/thong bottom, see through topless nudity, nude body paint, pasties, Genitalia/pubic hair, etc...

To which I replied:
That should be made clear in the content guidelines. They're very vague with the whole "grandma" thing.

Out of curiosity: Is there a difference in flickr's policy between "artsy" nudes and snapshots?

FYI: Public nudity is legal in Seattle if it is not lewd, but I know other places have stricter regulations.
Hm. That's more restrictive than the legal definition in most cities. Perhaps that should be posted in flickr's guidelines, as well.

Flickr's response:
Feel free to write back after you have made the necessary changes to your photostream.

So I sent them one more question:
What about people who don't mind nudity but don't want to see the hard-core graphic sex photos that dominate the "restricted" setting (gynological closeups, cum shots, etc. etc.)? Isn't that what "moderate" is for?

Flickr's final reply:
Unfortunately, we do not have the staff resources to continue this back and forth dialog. You have been given the parameters on how to moderate your content within the Flickr Community Guidelines. Feel free to write back after you have made the necessary changes to your photostream.

It's too bad they don't have the staff resources to provide precise and clear directions in their guidelines! I'm sure that would save them a lot of questions like mine from other disgruntled (paying) users.

. . . Well, at least we finally know what the Flickr censors say is acceptable!

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