The Creeps of Flickr [NSFW Language]

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Graffiti in Ottawa, April 2010

Maybe this is one of these odd personal preferences, but I’m not too keen on receiving unsolicited dick pics or random invitations to add one of my perfectly innocuous travel photos to a group called “Fuck me hard, NOW!”

No, seriously, I don’t share your fascinating and extremely specific interest in “Who Wants to Fuck My Wife While I Watch,” “50 Something and Horny,” “Women Who Want to Serve as Wanking Models,” “Women Bending Over” or “Slut Mom Wants Young Cock.”

I didn’t ask to be exposed to that crap. I’m not scarred for life—although I must say most dicks are very underwhelming—but I’m pissed off, and rightfully so, I think. After all, I’m not exploring the darknet, I’m just on Flickr.

Yes, Flickr, the photo-sharing website acquired by Yahoo!, then Verizon and now SmugMug.

Well, Flickr has a serious porn problem.

I joined Flickr in 2007, soon after developing a passion for photography. Over the past 11 years, I spent hours uploading my own pictures—one album for each trip—and browsing the work of much more talented photographers.

I contribute to the community with photos but I’ve never been very social on Flickr. I don’t write comments, mark pictures as “faves” or follow members, I just enjoy my occasional dose of inspiration quietly. Building a social media presence—if Flickr counts as a social network—is a full-time job. I already have a full-time job plus blog articles to write and pictures to take, so I’m not putting any effort into becoming Flickr famous.

Every now and then, I would receive an email to let me know that member XYZ was following me. Most of the time, it was someone I knew or we shared interests, like street photography. The rest of the time, it was one of these people who add everyone as “friends” and hope to be followed back to be popular or whatever—pretty harmless stuff and a very common attitude on social media.

I blocked a member once when I noticed he was collecting pictures of feet, including mine. Now, I don’t take tons of pictures of my feet—unlike him I don’t have a foot fetish—but I did upload a few super cliché shots of feet in water in lovely location. The thought of feeding this guy’s fetish made me feel uneasy but I didn’t lose sleep over it because someone is certain to fetishize any image you might put up. I blocked him, case closed.

Mid-November, Flickr sent a message to all members. Big changes to refocus on the community, a new step forward for Flickr, blah blah—the usual work of a comm team, spare me the fluff, I write these press releases for a living. The key messages? Free accounts were now limited to 1000 pictures, sign up for a Pro membership for $49.99 a year. Basically, give us money or your pictures will be deleted, goddammit, data storage is expensive, people.

I took a look at my account. Over 11 years, I had uploaded a total of 22,000 pictures. Clearly, 21,000 photos didn’t qualify for the free option. I didn’t have the time to download all my albums and possibly re-upload them on another platform  (which one?) so I chose the easy solution, good job Flickr comm team—I paid $50.

A couple of days later, I started receiving an unusual number of Flickr notifications.

Screenshot of one of these typical notifications received early December

It’s only after the fifth email that I logged into Flickr to see who were my new “friends.”

Screenshot of a new account following me, 2018-11-18

Screenshot of a new account following me, 2018-11-20

Screenshot of a new account following me, 2018-11-29

Screenshot of a new account following me, 2018-12-02

Holy shit.

Most of these accounts hadn’t uploaded pictures but they had a long list of “faves,” all of them featuring women in swimsuits or underwear. Those with a photostream were publishing extremely explicit pictures—I didn’t even know they were allowed on Flickr. Strangely, I think it’s the long list of groups these accounts had created or belonged to that I found the most creepy.

 

Screenshot, 2018-11-18, Marco e Cristina Rossi’s favorites

I blocked every single one of these accounts manually and I contacted Flickr. The team gave me a canned response.

I keep on receiving these “XYZ is following you” notifications. I blocked over 100 accounts so far. They creep me out now because every time, I discover a new dick shape (some are really crooked!) or a porn subgenre I didn’t even suspect.

I’m not a prude. I have nothing against pornography and fun stuff that can happen between two or, ahem, 20 consenting adults. But I want to be able to choose if and when I indulge in porn. Besides, this isn’t even “tasteful” porn, it’s the genre that degrades women—in 90% of the groups, we are referred to as “sluts,” while men provide “big cocks.”

Above all, I’m puzzled.

I don’t understand why creeps gather on Flickr. Aren’t they thousands of websites dedicated to porn?

I don’t understand why Flickr doesn’t clean up this shit. All the accounts I blocked and flagged a month ago are still active.

I don’t understand why these very questionable members are trying to “follow” members like me who, clearly, are on Flickr for photography and tend to “fave” pictures of people not gagged and bonded. I mean, how many of us are going to think “wow… I was really into street photography, but now I’m gonna start focusing on sluts with great tits!”

So basically, all the spammers and porn addicts are now enjoying a free account while legit members into photography paid $50 to be harassed.

Great job, Flickr.

Involuntarily, I paid $50 to be introduced to online porn at the age of 35. Fuck me (no, not literally…)

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

18 Comments

  1. Ouch!

    I believe, most technology companies just release the product in half baked state, with loop holes all over the place to be exploited.

    Point in case, I can even site an example of a software company who has their act together.

    • That’s an interesting perspective, I didn’t think in terms of “loop holes” but it makes sense to me. Shouldn’t be so hard to hire a team to patch this up…

  2. Wow, that’s surprising. Something that I didn’t expect. Like you, I also turned PRO in Flickr, since I didn’t know what to do with my 44K photos (though granted, they’re of a much less quality than yours). Unlike you, I haven’t received any new friend requests in Flickr, so I wonder why you attracted such a different outcome?

    • I’m also completely puzzled as to why I suddenly get all these notifications. I haven’t uploaded anything lately (I most add new albums after big trips) and my pictures are completely SFW. That’s the mystery of the web I guess… maybe one of my pics ended up in these groups? And the pics they “fave” are also really innocuous, like this one https://www.flickr.com/photos/xiaozhuli/26752825468 I mean, sure, you can see my belly button but it’s hardly sexual…

      • Martin Penwald on

        The thing is, there will be people aroused by anything. Feet, tits, cocks, butts, hair, duct tape, noses, beards, belly button, eyes, etc.
        The problem is that on the Internet, too many people don’t have the decency to keep it for themselves.
        And I don’t even count the sexist pigs who consider that they are entitled to all-time full access of every women’s bodies.

        • Yeah, that’s exactly why I don’t mind sharing pictures (… pictures I’m comfortable to share, obviously). The feet one was a huge revelation for me. I mean, if you think feet are hot (why not, not judging here), then anything can be sexualized.

          You said it better.

  3. Martin Penwald on

    Obviously if you engage in street pornography, there will be this kind of consequences …
    Oh, “phOTOgraphy” … Never mind.

  4. !!!!
    Sorry I am stuck on the Early 50’s chica, it’s hilarious to me. 🙂

    And by the way Street Pornography already exist and is well alive in Canada.

    I may or may not have had to translate part of a «glamour» website at some point and actually even if you don’t think about it a lot of things we search on Internet can be linked to porn.
    That’s what happened to me because I was searching a lot of things related to rods I think and I may have typed a sequence that meant porn for some reason.
    It wasin fact for mining industry FYI 😀
    But I endend up with a lot of Eastern girls wanting to know me.

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