flickr: Racist and Homophobic, or Scamming? [UPDATED]
UPDATED: See Links By Fellow Censred Flickrites at end.
By now, readers of my tales of whoa regarding my personal flickr.com experiences know that i have an ax to grind with flickr staff and "leadership." Take that statement as a full disclosure of potential bias on my part, but please hear me out.
Over the last year, we've seen flickr censor access to entire countries, citing legal liability (a questionable excuse, if not utterly ludicrous and mere Yahoo! lawyer butt covering). We've seen them delete user content and then back pedal with statements from founder Stewart Butterfield about how flickr staff will take more care in future to investigate first instead of deleting, which showed up as asking never and just deleting (but sending you a scolding via email), which made Butterfield a liar. When i confronted them with this very issue upon the (unwarned, uncommunicated) deletion of content from my account, i was given passive-aggressive "talk to the hand" responses, claims of violating the TOU (which they would never specify how), eventually followed by the deletion of my entire PAID account, and a new free one i created to attempt taking their policies to task in public view once more. Now i'm just totally blocked from view.
Don't question mommie in public or you'll get a beating when you go home.
Since these events, i've been witness to paying flickr members abandoning their paid accounts to move on to other photo sharing communities after their complaints of harassment and "pervy" abuse of their children's photos went 100% unhandled (and requests for help gone unreplied). i've a contact on flickr who was forced to move to a new account because, like mine, flickr staff has marked his account NIPSA (which is flickr's way of saying that your entire photostream is unsafe for the general population, despite the fact that users can and do moderate their own content). This contact of mine had nothing offensive in public view (again, like myself). He was blocked, by my estimation, because he is gay and sometimes does photo shoots that involve men in situations of love and lust, trust and fear; the artistic expression of age old stories of the human condition. He created a new, paid, account to attempt to start over, since he (like myself) is blocked from ever being seen by anyone not already a contact/friend of his. The public cannot see him. His work will never show on the flickr front page or be in the much coveted hall of fame called "Explore." He is blocked, NIPSAd, censored because... flickr staff are homophobic? i've communicated with this man privately. He is no pervert or exhibitionist. He is a thoughtful, budding photographer who has decided to explore many facets of his inner self along with any collaborators he finds along the way. His photos are of the human condition, not schlock or shock. He told me that he was building a new account for multiple reasons, but i sense the final nail in the coffin was being NIPSAd.
Why is it that he and i have been NIPSAd, yet i constantly accidentally run into full frontal nudity in most any area of the flickr community which runs the gamet from tasteless schlock to artistic expression? Why is a gay man's artistic expression censored? Is it because some insecure flickr staff member is uncomfortable seeing photos of two men expressing emotions via skin to skin contact? Why was i deleted and censored? Is it because the flickr management is too full of themselves to follow their own terms or use and too shallow and arrogant to be seen making liars of themselves and their bosses? Is it because they don't like the same content that they previously marked as SAFE one week prior to deleting my account and the follow-up account?
Homophobia is racism just as much as the hate or discrimination of persons with different national origin or skin color is racism. Discrimination is discrimination. Period. It doesn't matter what kind of discrimination it is.
Now, a new censoring technique has been established: groups have had their administration settings modified en mass, behind the scenes, without warning the group administrators and moderators. The new system policies have made things so that members who's photostreams have been censored and marked as "unsafe," "NIPSA" or "restricted" cannot add their images to a group. The only way this can be changed is if the group changes their settings to allow "restricted" content. The problem with this is that the group is then AUTOMATICALLY changed to an 18+ group and is made invisible to the public. It is then only discoverable by members who have disabled "safe search." Non-members CANNOT disable "safe search." Non-members cannot view 18+ content... even if the content isn't really adult in nature.
This has directly affected me in a most offensive manner: i am no longer able to share my personal self documentation of my autism research with other members of flickr who have groups dedicated to ausitm and Asperger's Syndrome. These are groups of autistic persons and parents of autistic children. Many of my contacts and on-line associates/friends began contact with me because of my open sharing of my autistic life on flickr and the fact that they felt they had gained some new understanding that would help them with their children.
Discrimination against persons with disabilities is racism just as homophobia is racism. The only problem is, there isn't a word for this type of discrimination. The word "homophobia" carries a meaning and a weight. So about a year ago i coined the term "neuroracism." (WikiPedia refused my addition). flickr is discriminating against me based on neuroracism. They are also negatively affecting the groups which have members who expressed appreciation for my contributions. Neuroracism.
When i started posting about this racism and censorship, i started hearing from contacts and friends about how their other contacts and friends have experienced similar discrimination (account blockage or deletion). Many members are edgy and afraid that some harmless upload will get their account deleted.
Then i wondered... Is this a scam? Is flickr crippling accounts just to push members into paying for another, new "pro" account subscription? That would be highly illegal.
At this point, nothing would surprise me. The leadership at flickr have demonstrated amoral and sociopathic attitudes towards their members. Clearly they do not grasp the concept that their users and paying customers ARE flickr. Without the community, there would be only a tool. A great tool, but an empty tool.
i encourage other reporters, editorialists and flickr members to investigate. i encourage anyone who has had unpleasant dealings with Yahoo/flickr to report these experiences to the Better Business Bureau and publish them to NowPublic and anywhere else relevant (news and communities). By being a memberof flickr , paying or not, you MAKE flickr exist. Even as a free member, flickr makes money: the more members, the more advertizing revenue they bring in. Even if that number of members is artificially inflated by forcing existing members to create new accounts, just as what GeoCities or Yahoo did when it resurrected deleted GeoCities accounts to bolster their membership numbers for Yahoo's buyout interest or advertizer interest (i had deleted my GeoCities website months before the buyout and accidentally discovered it was resurrected - i was unable to delete it so i forced them to do it for me by lambasting the Yahoo start page and posting the link everywhere i could).
To paraphrase Ghandi: It's your world. Make it be what it should be.
These services are SERVICES. Make them provide what they claim. Make them provide what you PAID for.
Take back your world and your rights as a human being. Fight discrimination and any other illegal behavior. Don't just throw your hands up and give in. Computer-land or not, these things matter and they carry on to the "real world" faster than you can sneeze.
Here is another very similar complaint leveled at flickr, with similar results (though MORE communication than flickr generally gives, because they were forced via public attention):
See-ming LeeIt took me 6 months to figure out what the hell was wrong. I didn't get a reply from the official staff despite several attempts to contact them. Eventually I got so pissed off that I did a Twitter stunt and posted a long-winded outcry on GetSatisfaction.com. That appears to help, I got a reply from the Flickr staff within one day.
See-ming Lee... I do not understand why this image is moderate....<br> Flickr replied by saying that the image needs to be moderate because the person is wearing "skin-tight" clothing. I then asked them if I took photos at the Olympics or at the beach, do I need to mark them as moderate as well, to which they reply, that "regardless of where they were taken, they need to be moderated."<br> <br> In other words, according to Flickr Censorship standards, this will only appear in an R-rated movie. Meanwhile, the Yahoo Pride page during 2007 happily use my photos on their site, so WTF?! <br> ...<br> One thing to note, also, is that the image below ... was considered OK to Flickr. The only difference is that the guy above is gay and the guy below is straight.
Notice how flickr staff cannot give straight answers when logical questions are posed about their illogical reasoning? VERY TELLING, IMO.
See-ming LeeIn February 2009, Flickr set my account to Restricted status, resulting in a drastic decrease in stream and photo viewership. ... my entire stream become unavailable to public, ... my photos on Flickr can no longer be viewed on SML Wiki. Additionally, my portfolio is down, and I was no longer able to post anything to any of the groups I participate in.<br> <br> This article recounts what happened to my account, my discussion with the Flickr staff, together with data, screenshots, photo examples, related blog posts on the Internet, as well as up-to-date Meta Search Alerts results found on the net.