Sunday, 24 October 2010

You dirty old man

I've always been a bit lazy with the content filters on Flickr, for two reasons:

(i) the internet is full of explicit porn... in case you hadn't noticed. If you're worried about your kid seeing photos which contain mind-warping atrocities like a woman's nipple, then your best bet is probably to keep him away from a computer, full stop.
(ii) Flickr doesn't allow you to set a filter up before you upload images.* So even if you're quick and well-intentioned, you can't help but corrupt some poor innocents during that brief window between your shots becoming visible on the site, and you getting to the page that allows you to adjust the various settings. My personal record was 25 views on an image in the few seconds before I could lock it down, which frankly was a compelling motivation to not self-censor.

(* I now think this isn't true, but as a function it's hidden away somewhere, and you have to go looking for it. Which is almost as dumb as not having it at all)

Anyhoo, someone at Flickr finally noticed that a few of my pics weren't 100% kiddie-friendly, and reset the permissions on them to "moderate". Hey-ho, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I think I got lucky; I've heard stories of entire accounts being marked as restricted on the basis of one complaint about a single shot. Clicking on my own "nude" tag reveals 24 shots, and only five were moderated, so I can't complain.

However, what amuses and perplexes me is the randomness of the censorship. Of the two below, the top image was restricted, the bottom one left unfettered:

For a while I wondered if it was something to do with the pubic area. In the case of the two black & white bodyscapes, if the model had a fluffy ladygarden it would be visible in the top shot, but possibly not in the bottom one. Then again, both this shot and this one have her bajingo visible, and neither was censored.

Furthmore, both pictures of Karen1985 (below) show her foo-foo. Well, just about. In the largest versions. If you squint. Yet while the colour shot on the left was moderated, the black & white version wasn't:

No clue about those two at all. They're right next to each other in my photostream, are in pretty much the same groups, etc. Is there some kind of complex formula involved? Or was a Flickr staffer halfway through censoring me on a Friday afternoon when it came time to go home, and he never finished the job when he returned on Monday morning?

Addendum: Following an alleged complaint, my entire photostream was moderated in early December. Only took a couple of hours to resolve things, and their actions this time round made more sense; a bit heavy-handed given that nude images comprise only 5% of my stream, but not unexpected given Flickr's history in this kind of thing. I've marked everything as moderate that needs to be, although I think I'll have a second look at some of them; interpreting the big F's filtering instructions literally, I think I'm entitled to disable my self-censorship when nothing incriminating (e.g. breast, buttock) is actually visible.


sarah said...

Flickr are strange and weird that way, they made 'zombiesazza' an 'unsafe' profile and marked everything restricted, I challenged it and they have put it as 'moderate' lol

the general rule of thumb for flickr is boobs and bums are moderate, full length art nudes are restricted :)

G said...

Ooh, a comment! People actually read my blog? Shoot, better start spellchecking more often...

Yeah, their e-mail mentioned those guidelines. They never used to be this bad until Yahoo took them over, and they became more insidiously corporate.