When I first got to my office early this morning I opened up RandomConnections to check comments and clean out the boatload of spam comments that tends to accumulate overnight. The first thing I noticed was that all of my photos were missing. If I clicked through to get to the actual photo page, the page would load, but the images were broken. When I tried to go to my Flickr site, I got a message that it was blocked because it was categorized as “adult, nudity” by our content filtering company.
I was afraid this would happen. Flickr has not been very good about policing its site for inappropriate content. I know it’s probably futile, but I sent the following e-mail to their support team:
To Whom It May Concern:
I’ve been an avid Flickr fan for the past couple of years. I have nearly 4000 images online, and I’ve given talks at various educational technology conferences about ways to use Flickr in the classroom.
Over the past year or so I’ve grown more and more concerned about the amount of inappropriate images on Flickr, and the ease of accessibility of these images. Today, the inevitable finally happened. When I tried to access my Flickr site from our school district I got the message that it was blocked by our Internet filters because it was categorized as “adult, nudity”.
As the district’s Director of Technology, I have the power to override our Internet filter, but I will not. I’m afraid I agree with our content filtering company’s assessment. This is unfortunate. This means that we can no longer user Flickr as a resource for our schools, including one high school photography class that had planned to use it. I will also no longer be promoting Flickr as a viable tool for classrooms at the various educational technology conferences that I attend.
Whatever privacy settings and content management systems you have put in place have proven to be totally inadequate for keeping inappropriate material away from minors. The voluntary methods you have in place are so easily circumvented as to be laughable. I would urge you to abide by your own Community Guidelines and more actively police your services.
I’m just hoping that this doesn’t get my account deleted by them in some knee-jerk reaction. I’ve really been torn up about this. Flickr is a great service, but more and more it has been too easy to get to porn. I’ve got nothing against artistic nude photos, but much of this is far beyond that line. I guess I’ll add this to the list of websites such as YouTube I use at home, but won’t be able to use at school.
[tags]Flickr, porn, inappropriate content, Internet filtering[/tags]