Motivated by a very public accidental deletion of a Flickr user's account, and its very protracted restoration, Yahoo's photo-sharing site has added an option to easily reverse an account termination.
"We've now instituted a 90-day delay in deleting the content, including the photos, metadata, comments, and all the bits of an account, after it's deleted," Flickr said in a blog post yesterday.
The new procedure guards against the kind of embarrassment caused by the case of Mirco Wilhelm's Flickr account. Wilhelm had reported another Flickr user for violation of the site's policies, but Flickr inadvertently deleted his account instead of the alleged abuser's.
Wilhelm, who had more than 4,000 photos on Flickr, many of them linked to from elsewhere on the Web, was outraged. It took several days, but Flickr restored his account from backups.
Such a problem wouldn't occur with the new system, Flickr said in a statement:
Before deleting an account, Flickr reviews the content and activity against the Community Guidelines and deletes only when that is the appropriate action according to their policies. Because of the policies and procedures they have in place, it is very rare that an account is deleted in error. However, if someone believes that their account was deleted when it shouldn't have been, they can write in. Flickr will review the account again, and if there was an error it will be restored.
Of course, the modification also addresses people who delete their own accounts and then have second thoughts.
"If you deleted your account yourself, you can write in, and if we can verify you as the account owner, we can restore the account. If it has been less than 90 days, the content of the account will also be restored," Flickr said in its account FAQ. "When an account is deleted, the content, including the photos, metadata, comments, and everything else, will stay on the servers for 90 days, but is no longer publicly accessible. After that period, we erase it from our servers, ensuring a clean wipe of your information."