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Flickr Delete 4,000 Pictures "By Accident"

David Gilbert


Flickr Deletes 4,000 Pictures "By Accident"

Flickr officially calls itself: “The best online photo management and sharing application in the world.” Therefore you would not expect it to delete over 4,000 pictures from one of its most prolific users – but it did. Oops.

Flickr, which is owned by Yahoo!, did send photo blogger Mirco Wilhelm an apology of sorts but this did little to appease the suitably angry Zurich-based IT architect, who subsequently posted a blog titled: “You have to f**king kidding, Yahoo!” We added the asterisks, as Mirco was pulling no punches when venting his anger at the site and grammar aside, the message is pretty clear.

The issue arose when Mirco noticed another blogger using his photos and contacted Flickr to report the problem. Flickr, in its wisdom, “accidentally deleted” Mirco’s account without warning. Mirco only noticed the problem when he went to log into his account to find that he was being asked to create a new account. When he contacted Flickr again, he got this response:


Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours. I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled. Here is what I can do from here: I can restore your account, although we will not be able to retrieve your photos. I know that there is a lot of history on your account—again, please accept my apology for my negligence. Once I restore your account, I will add four years of free Pro to make up for my error.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

Again, I am deeply sorry for this mistake.


Flickr Staff

Suffice to say that this response was hardly going to appease the photo blogger and he went on to talk about his feelings through his blog. While he acknowledges the four free years of Pro are great, he wonders: “So how can this really compensate losing close to 4000 “linked” pictures from my web albums?” Mirco also points out that from his point-of-view as an IT architect, going from an active account to a deleted account "is pretty much a no-go in any enterprise environment." He questions why his account wasn’t deactivated first before the situation was evaluated, which to us seems like a very good point.

Flickr responded again saying they would be able to get him logged back into his account and they were “taking a look to see if there is anything we can do in this particular case to restore your content.” Flickr also told the New York Observer that they were working on a new system which would “allow us to easily restore deleted accounts and we plan on rolling this functionality out soon.”

Here’s hoping Mirco does indeed get his pictures back but it is a sharp reminder that storing data in the cloud with services such as Flickr is not exactly bulletproof.

Source: Mirco Wilhelm’s Blog

Nick G

February 2, 2011, 6:22 pm

Very simple - just restore it from the backup. If there is no backup, fire the System Administrator, appoint a new one know actually knows what he/she is doing and then pay the customer suitable compensation in cash - not vouchers. Perhaps a 1 or two USD per photo lost. Simples.


February 2, 2011, 6:32 pm

Bit of a shame, but please tell me that the images on Flickr were the only copies he had?

Personally, as great as the likes of Flickr & Facebook are, I'd never trust them to hold my personal info. At home, I have a 'working' copy of my data, a backup taken usually 1-2 times a week and then a back-up of the back-up which I run every 3-4 weeks. Just to be safe...


February 2, 2011, 7:19 pm

Wow, guess Mirco Wilhelm's never made a mistake. Agreed that there should be a back up for this but the apology from (presumably) the person that did it seemed sincere to me. As has been said surely he's got these backed up himself? If he hasn't then he's a fool... hmmm reminds me I haven't backed up in a while!

Also I wonder if he screamed?


February 2, 2011, 7:50 pm

Precisely the reason storage in the cloud will NEVER become the primary method for data storage... that and copyright claims to any work posted there


February 2, 2011, 7:59 pm

Just read his blog and to be fair his main issue is relinking all his photo's which I can understand.


February 3, 2011, 12:49 am

Thing is, this is what happens to you if you complain at Flickr. They don't like having to actually do work. That's pretty obvious from the fact that after over five years of losing people's photos like this, they still fail to back up anything. The founder even lost all his stuff at that cluster-f of a social network gone wrong. What's funny about those slackers at Yahoo's Flickr is that they think they can pull off hosting a porn site, while pretending it's a family friendly place for your kids' photos. That may be fine for the average user that wacks off at work, but not so good for an advertising platform, as it turns out. You see, major corporations and small businesses alike have an issue with their ads being surreptitiously placed onto hardcore pornographic web pages without being told about that. Yahoo's Flickr can play this game of hide-the-porn while tricking the general public into trusting them. But those lies don't really fly in the advertising world on which Yahoo depends. Everyday, several people get deleted from Yahoo's Flickr as that company desperately attempts to make their porn site not really appear to be one on the surface. The copyright infringement is the same thing on a smaller scale. They count on people stealing your content, that's why they tricked you into placing it all online in an easily accessible catalog of stock images from trusting idiots. Make any kind complaint about the way they are doing anything, and you're booted out mercilessly. That's just the way it goes and Yahoo doesn't care one bit how you feel, because they obviously do whatever they want to. They have the government in their pocket and free reign to push porn into grade schools unlabeled, give your photos away for free to anyone that wants them without liability, and harbor countless sexual predators, pedophiles, and registered sex offenders, whom they cloak so they can be right next to your children without anyone being suspicious. Can't really see anything worthwhile about that website, or Yahoo in general. It's all lies from them, and everyone eats it up with a clueless smile.


February 3, 2011, 1:29 am


Wait, Whuwhat?


February 3, 2011, 2:39 am

Reminds my why I NEVER use "the Cloud" for data storage and will certainly never trust this type of 3rd Party to host my data. While I see comments about "making your own backup" - and this is certainly prudent for the basic data such as the "photos" - when using these types of sites there is often no way to save all the other tags and secondary "meta-data" which are what make these sites useful. Until sites like Flickr start to operate as proper businesses rather than bedroom web-projects, I doubt it will be the last time we see something like this.

If I am honest, I was surprised to see the Flickr guy admitting "negligence" on his part. Personally, if I were the victim of the mistake I would be looking to sue the @rse of the company - it is probably the only thing that will make them start to sit up and take notice. That said, I suspect the usually very one-sided Ts & Cs will be so full of exclusions and limits of liability that this course of action will be rather futile. While I am generally supportive of keeping legislation to a minimum, I do think it is about time that governments started to take these big companies to task over their increasinly ludicrour "contracts of adhesion".


February 3, 2011, 1:46 pm

FedUp2 reads like Sarah Palin without the charm. What a moron.

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