Not me, fortunately.
I got a message yesterday from a Flickr friend saying Flickr had closed his Pro account with no refund. They told him he was in violation of their Community Guidelines for posting “voyeur” pictures.
Their message said:
Voyeur content is a violation of the Flickr Community Guidelines.
# Don’t be creepy.
You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.
Read the following help forum discussion below about the definition of voyeur content on Flickr.
It looks like the subject has been debated endlessly. A few thoughts of my own:
- According to Mirriam-Webster the word “voyeur” means: “ one obtaining sexual gratification from observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts.” My friend’s pictures were candid photos of beautiful women on the public street. No undressing, nakedness or sexual acts.
- The Wikipedia definition here gives a similar definition but goes on to say that “In popular imagination the term is used in a more general sense to refer to someone who habitually observes others without their knowledge, and there is no necessary implication of any sexual interest.” But the article doesn’t cite a reference for this assertion (which is against Wikipedia’s own guidelines. Smile.)
- My biggest “legal” problem is that Flickr say in their Guidelines “What Not to Do. Here’s the deal: In most circumstances, we like to give second chances, so we’ll send you a warning if you step across any of the lines listed below. Subsequent violations can result in account termination without warning.” As my friend explained it there was no warning or chance to remove or restrict objectionable pictures. If Flickr is not following their own Guidelines I think my friend has cause for compensation. Of course having cause and it being worthwhile to engage an attorney and sue are completely different things.
- Of course the Guideline he breached is so nebulous: “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be the guy.” Creepy is an idiomatic term – it has no meaning in law and to a non-native English speaker it may be confusing or meaningless. I wonder how Flickr translates it to other languages? Also, are women never creepy? Does it mean that women do not have to follow the guideline? Surely not. From reading the discussion thread it seems Flickr decided to write idiomatically as the alternative to complex.
- He said his “account was reviewed as safe by Flickr staff” (just like mine). Of course that was a one time review when he opened the account – but still, it seemed to give him some sense that what he was posting was acceptable. he said he had over 3,000 photos in his account when it was closed.
- I think Flickr relies on the community to enforce the Guidelines. If someone complains then the customer service people take action. But it does seem that they did not follow their own Guidelines in their enforcement.
I am concerned because I have posted a lot of similar content. It’s stil there but I guess it could go at any time. Fortunately I am too kee-niaw (Thai for tight-fisted) to pay for an account so I won’t lose any money.
But I also thought – what if the world was different? What if 50-something Western men were considered subjects for candid photography and posting on Flickr. (I have not looked but I am convinced there are no Flickr groups called anything like “Farang Men in Bangkok” whereas there are so many around tghe theme of “Street Photography”, “Asian Girl Next Door” and my favourite “Thai Students”).
How would I feel if a photo of me showed up on Flickr without my knowledge?
Maybe I’d be a bit pissed off and complain.
We live in an ultra-sensitive time, especially in the US and Europe. People are more concerned about their privacy than ever before.
I believe that in Thailand people are less concerned (sophisticated?) I get many requests for photos from stranges in the street. People here thank me for taking their photo without asking what I’ll do with it.
“I should be thanking you!”.
When I post pictures I try to post pictures that are flattering to the girl and omit those few where she is clearly annoyed at the intrusion. Maybe 10% of them are the opposite – cheery waves, big smiles and the like.
I am wondering if I should
- Delete all my “candid” content apart from that where the subject clearly welcomes the photograph. (In which case it isn’t candid).
- Delete all candid content where the subject can be identified.
- Retain the candid content but label it “friends and family” and not post it to any groups. (Group posting ignores those flags). That should eliminate any complaints as people opt-in to see that type of photo. Notwithstanding professional complainers, however.
- Be Thai: don’t think too much. (But if somebody complains about my photos and Flickr deletes my account without warning then it will be too late.)
What do you think?