It's official: Flickr is part of the corporate world.
Once the quintessential grassroots Web phenomenon, Flickr has fallen increasingly at odds with some members since being bought by Yahoo last year. The latest example of this tension is Badflickr, a blog created specifically to protest the photo site's policing practices.
The author of Badflickr says his account was terminated "without warning and without due process," apparently because of photos depicting one of his small children "wearing only his birthday suit" on a beach vacation. That, at least, is the speculation of him and his wife, who he says were never given any specific reason for the action. After many unanswered emails, according to the initial Badflickr post, they finally got a single-line response: "Your account was terminated for containing illegal and/or prohibited content."
Backflickr is only a few days old but has already generated much discussion on Flickr's forums, not all of it sympathetic. Some posters--especially those sensitive to issues involving child nudity--defend the company's actions as consistent with its terms of service. But others are still troubled by the way Flickr handles such terminations.
"There's a lot of uncertainty between members over at Flickr at the moment," one member wrote to us in response to the controversy. "Flickr has apparently become quite heavy-handed in deleting user accounts, even paid ones, for 'minor' reasons and not entering into discussion with them."
Regardless of the details, the Badflickr incident illustrates the kind of issues that inevitably arise when a volunteer social network joins a large profit-driven enterprise. Predictably, Flickr began facing a backlash almost as soon as the Yahoo deal was announced, similar to the kinds of complaints that have befallen MySpace under the control of News Corp.
And as more social networks and other Web 2.0 companies are acquired, we will be certain to see more of the same.