Flickr Sex Scandal (Finally) Arrives!

I just reposted the first piece I did on Visions in November of 2008,  predicting how Yahoo would respond if it were seriously pressured to eliminate pornography on Flickr (my guess: badly!)

A piece posted on the website Mirror News (UK) on November 16th of this year raised the same problem we worried about. The Mirror piece raises the alarm:

Flickr is renowned as one of the best photo sharing sites on the web. But there’s a less wholesome side to what can be found on its service too, seemingly in direct breach of its parent company Yahoo!’s terms of service.

So here we go… Mirror tells the sad tale of a Flickr member looking for wholesome pics of body parts to use in a wholesome birthday card for his wholesome girlfriend (wholesome copyright violation?). Shockingly, he finds kinky porno. The Mirror goes further and finds all kinds of disgusting and vile photos, groups and even text on Flickr.

…All of which violates Yahoo’s policies, as the Mirror tells us:

In its terms of service, Yahoo! states: “You agree to not use the Services to… upload, post, email or otherwise transmit any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.”

The Mirror updates its story today, with a long quote from Yahoo reciting all of its wonderful safety measures. The truth is, or course, “safe search” is a very leaky net. Think about it, anyone can visit this blog and link to “adult” images on Flickr. Safe search only works within Flickr. With four billion photos to police, there is utterly no way Flickr can ever hope to stem the tide of porn. How long – how many months or years – would it take Flickr to remove it all. If Yahoo hired five thousand people to do nothing but examine each of the four billion images on Flickr, and it took ten seconds to review each photo, it would take over a year to review them all (assuming a forty hour week). If each reviewer cost $40,000 per year Yahoo would shell out $200,000,000!). Of course, when the Yahoo review team got done they be a year behind…

Until Yahoo invents software which can see and understand the contents of an uploading images (“pink triangle”, yes;  “shaved pubic area”, no!) in real, time there is really no solution to the porn problem. Except the kind of massive overkill I suggested in my original post. How many Yahoo members would volunteer to be Flickr police? a hundred? A hundred thousand? What kind of people would want to be censors? Imagine the incredible variation in standards. How many more people would Yahoo have to hire or have volunteer to review the decisions of the original censors!?

But Yahoo doesn’t really want to solve the porn problem; it wants to look good, and wholesome, to its customer base and the public at large. Yahoo might go the volunteer route; its cheap and the company could tout “over thirty thousand members monitor Flickr everyday!”

Oh well…At least it feels good to see my prediction start to come true. Now let me give you stock picking advice.


One Response to “Flickr Sex Scandal (Finally) Arrives!”

  1. Frédéric COIGNOT – Auteur Photographe…

    […]Flickr Sex Scandal (Finally) Arrives! « VISIONS[…]…

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