Friday, June 9, 2023

Flickr Removes Content Critical of Obama

Thomas Hawke’s Digital Connection raises a very interesting and disturbing issue, and one that we have highlighted before here. It seems that Flickr, the online image-archiving company, is censoring images and content that it deems negatively critical of Obama. Most recently Flickr has removed, without prior notice to the owner, the image of Obama as the Joker.

Thomas Hawke:

[I]t’s unfortunate that Flickr would embark upon yet another act of censorship when an image was so clearly parody and fair use. What bothers me even more is that this is still another example of Flickr censoring users who are critical of President Obama and his policies. In June Flickr deleted the entire account and photostream of Flickr user Shepherd Johnson after he posted comments critical of the President on the Official White House Photostream. Now I’m actually a Democrat who voted for President Obama and am super happy to see the President using Flickr. But while Flickr’s staff is obviously proud of the fact that they have President Obama’s official photostream on Flickr, I don’t think that this fact ought to be the impetuous for them to censor and delete users who are critical of the President.

I’m also troubled by this censorship in light of the clear pro-Obama bias that Flickr’s staff has shown. If you do a search for the word “Obama” on the flickr blog you get 74 different results, many of them very positive. By contrast a search for “Bush” on the Flickr blog only pulls up 5 results (even though Flickr has existed much longer under President Bush’s presidency than President Obama’s).

It should be apparent that this is one way in which law, specifically copyright law, can be used as a censoring mechanism. What is not immediately apparent is whether or not the Obama administration has its hand in this.


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