I’M SORRY I EVER MET YOU

Your beloved wife turns into a bitch a decade and a half into your marriage. When she divorce-rapes you, of course she keeps the kids and cleans out your joint bank account – but she also accuses you of collecting porno (of your children, it is implied) and other illegal material in your storage locker, whose keys she took with her.

Flickr is that bitch of a wife. After more than 16 years as a member (a paid Flickr Pro member since 2005), within the last two weeks this oft-resold, ever-failing photo-storage and ‑publishing site:

  • lied that it issued warnings to me of “restricted” videos and other items, and of copyright infringement, via its near-hidden internal mail system and to a Yahoo account I had to log back into (where such messages do not exist)

  • gave me three days to rectify the so-called restricted videos, which days came and went, at which point Flickr simply deactivated my account after 16 years

  • eventually let me log back in, whereupon I discovered that my account, the only one with 33,000 items 100% of which were tagged and safety-designated, had been deemed “unsafe,” which designation is intentionally undefined in its documentation

  • reset the safety levels of thousands of items to Restricted (and – this too is undocumented – expects me to manually reinspect and re-designate all 33,000 items)

  • so severely mangled the logged-in and public views of my account that all such views were contradictory (some photos were shown in public view, or only 2,000 of them; Photostream showed no public photos; Camera Roll [a superset of everything in one’s account] listed as empty)

  • cancelled my paid Flickr Pro account, but kept it ostensibly active and invited me to renew it

“If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product” is a bumper sticker, not a truism. Here I am paying for the product. I also did not publish porno or any remotely prohibited content. I never use this term, but I find it actually homophobic to be accused of having done so, not only because I laboriously maintained the best metadata of any user on Flickr. (Not just safety designations and tags but machine tags.)

I spent 16 years as party to a class-action copyright lawsuit. (We won.) I am as well-versed on copyright, including U.S. law, as a civilian can be. Flickr could point to only one item that was allegedly infringing. It isn’t, so I filed a DMCA counterclaim. That very day, Flickr deactivated my account again. (I had also updated my About page on that service to state that Flickr had fucked up my account and was lying about my having published pornographic and infringing items.)

When I hear the words “trust and safety,” I take out my revolver

Flickr’s parent company is a failed photo service with the apt name of SmugMug. CEO of both branches is a batshit Northern California social-justice warrior, Don MacAskill (“Anti-hate. [H]e/him. Black Lives Matter”). Flickr is such a commercial moneypit that its official Weblog begged civilian users to upgrade to a paid account. I’ve been paying Flickr for almost two decades.

Not only is Flickr accusing a gay man of publishing porno (and a copyright expert of infringing same), it has learned nothing from the experience of Patreon, whose terms of service required the use of binding arbitration. So many arbitration claims were filed against Patreon (no fewer than 72) on the topic of Owen Benjamin’s suspension that Patreon soon required an infusion of millions in vulture capital – and, incredibly, in outright donations – in large part to defend against an avalanche of arbitration claims, informed observers believe.

Under arbitration, what was plain as day was actually noticed: 17 of Patreon’s 100 highest earners publish furry or anime porn and other items that could be called degenerate. Based on experience, Silicon Valley’s soi-disant trust-and-safety “teams” are fond of only two things – alarming pornography suited to their own perversions (all of which they permit on their respective services) and of course censorship.

Let’s find out what Flickr’s Trust and Safety team is really into.

There is no viable alternative

Flickr has no competition. To suggest Instagram for that role is laughable to a man who’s been online for three decades. (The reasons usually cited for Instagram’s villainy – Facebook owns it, and it doesn’t censor conservatives enough – are barely half right.) Even if a plausible competitor were in operation, Flickr is holding my own property hostage, which on its face amounts to a 33,000-count case of copyright infringement. Sunk cost is not a fallacy.

Flickr for photos is like Air Canada for domestic flights. Miss Jan Wong (two newspaper columns, November 2001 [edited]):

My stories in yesterday’s Globe and Mail described how I had boarded four Air Canada domestic flights last weekend and managed to pass through security with an array of sharp implements. […]

Air Canada is banning me unless I sign a letter promising I will never again carry “any knife or knife-like object” onboard its planes….

OK, OK, I’ll sign…. After all, if I can’t fly Air Canada, what am I supposed to do – buy a broomstick?

This week, Air Canada’s “law branch” sent me a long, somewhat incoherent letter reminding me about an article I recently wrote in this newspaper. In it, “you publicly acknowledged and detailed that… you knowingly carried cutting instruments” onto four Air Canada flights. They want me to promise I’ll never do that again….

In the same letter that it is asking me to sign, Air Canada lists “prohibited conduct.” This includes intoxication, drug-taking, smoking, violent and abusive behaviour, failing to buckle your seatbelt, and talking on a cellphone.

According to this rather long list, “prohibited conduct” does not include bringing sharp things onboard. But perhaps the law branch forgot.

The dangerous weapon Air Canada dislikes so much, of course, is not the box cutter, but the pen. As I said, I’ll sign. I’ve finished the story. And I’d like to resume my status as one of Air Canada’s long-suffering customers.

Flickr is in a world of trouble

It has only a few days left under U.S. copyright law to restore access to the allegedly infringing item. Even with about 700 followers (I also carefully maintained that list), Flickr might foreseeably go bust fighting arbitration claims. Even my upcoming complaint will cost tens of thousands in legal fees. My costs will be capped at 250 greenbacks.

I asked Flickr questions for attribution about why it lied repeatedly and why it spuriously deactivated my well-maintained account, but I am not going to report its responses here. Flickr can make a public statement, which I’m sure will be as honest as that bitch of a wife’s sworn testimony in divorce court.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2021.10.26 10:54. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2021/10/26/flickr/

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