You May Or May Not Be Aware

Going the other way (by YanivG)

From: Flickr Support

Subject: “Marked as restricted”


Here we go again. Flickr restricted my photostream again (3rd time). No, they won’t say why.

There are 2,944 pictures on my Flickr photostream, 1,073 of them public and the rest are private (e.g. 1,073 pictures of my nephews and extended family that I’d rather bore only specific people with).

There are also 55 pictures on my photostream which contain nudity in one form or another. While I am not fully comfortable with this definition, all of these pictures most likely fall under what most people will define as “artistic nudes”. As far as I know, they are all properly flagged as safe, moderate or restricted, according to the Flickr community guidelines.

Now, go figure which of these 1,073 photos offended someone and why.

I do consider Flickr a community, and I do try to be a good citizen of this community. Because that’s the right thing to do.

But I when I am not wearing my amateur photographer hat, I am wearing my other hat, which is a designer of a community-based social experience, driven by people and the content they create.

We tend to think of the net, and specifically on the user-generated-content-Web2.0-social-pastel-colored crop of sites in it as an expression of democracy and free speech. I have a gnawing suspicion that what we’re in fact creating here is a “brave new world”-like tyranny.

An ever-growing part of our lives is carried online, on web sites that are free for users, but are actually paid for by companies, big and small. We create content, but this content actually resides on these companies web servers. And when they decide to remove this content, or close our account, or cancel our email access – effectively they eliminate our ability to express our opinions. They don’t need a court order, and there is really no one to appeal to – they (or is it “we”?) are completely within their rights, and after all, you did agree to the terms of use, right?

They call it “moderation”. I call it “moderation” too. I practice this on a daily basis. It’s legitimate, it’s lawful, and it’s necessary. No, I do not have a proposal for a viable alternative model. But there is something very wrong about this model, and I have a hunch that as an industry, we’re going to regret it and wish we were more responsible.

And my Flickr account? Oh, I will write them another email, asking to receive more detailed information on why was my account restricted so that I can fix whatever I did wrong unknowingly. And probably, like they did before, they will not respond but the restriction will be magically removed. And I will continue to pay Flickr the Pro fee, and generate page views and ad impressions for them.

But we *are* going to regret this model.

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