Flickr’ing off, a follow-up

by Yule Heibel on February 2, 2007

After reading several additional blog entries (notably Ken Camp and Shelley Powers) about why or why not people may or may not be upset by flickr’s switch to yahoo-only accounts, I want to explain why I’m upset. I don’t care that it’s yahoo — never had an account with them, don’t care. I’m not anti-big corporations on principle, either, for otherwise how could I have gmail accounts? I’m not attached in any way to the silly “old skool” label (I quite agree with Shelley that it’s puerile to address pre-acquisition-by-yahoo flickr members as such).

But: I pay for flickr. I’m a customer, I have a transaction with them. I gave them money, they let me upload my photos. When I buy something, I don’t expect to have to give out a whole lot of personal information. It doesn’t matter that snoops with a 3rd grade education could probably find out everything that yahoo wants me to put into tidy boxes in bite-sized information, for their easy convenience. I know that. But if I’m a paying customer, I don’t expect to have to give that information.

I won’t give that information.

Which brings me to the next point (and bear with me, I’m pressed for time and literally writing this on the fly into the editing box on this blog): I could just lie and give false information, right? I bet that’s what most people are thinking (“Hey, what’s wrong with you? Just give ’em a made-up birthdate and zip code…”). But the terms of service (and don’t forget: I didn’t want this “service”) I’m asked to check as agreeing to state that I shouldn’t lie. So if I do lie, I’m effectively breaching a contract. “No big deal, who cares, everybody does it” — are most people saying that?

Well, what do I say, then, when as a customer I expect TOSs to be respected and I instead get corporate misbehaviour and a cavalier shrug of the shoulders, with perhaps a dismissive, “what’s your problem?, everybody does it” thrown in?

Why should I be put in a position of having to lie in order to maintain a service I paid for?

Never, ever was I put into the position of buying something, with the seller forcing me either to reveal personal information against my will or to lie.
And if I had a free account, I’d still feel the same, except it would be easier just to leave flickr. With a paid account, however, I’ve invested a certain amount of time and trust in uploading more photos, and possibly developing more contacts, including group affiliations.

So this is the model of corporate customer relations for the future: lie or reveal. Handing over your money is no longer good enough. If “greed is good” was the motto of the 80s, maybe “lying is ok, everybody does it” is the de facto reality of the 2000s. Heaven help us. We’re flickr’d.

…And yet & maybe, just maybe I should be just as cynical about the whole thing as yahoo & flickr are: lie through my teeth and stay in the corrupt circus. Trouble is I can’t decide if it’s what they deserve or if that’s cutting off my principled nose to spite my face.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: