Flickr Accidentally Deletes User's 4000 Photos

February 2, 2011 /Photography News/ Flickr user Mirco Wilhelm says he lost 4,000 photos -- five years' worth of images -- due to a mistake on the part of a staffer at the popular picture hosting site.

The mishap occurred a few days ago, after Wilhelm sent in a support ticket to complain about a user who was posting photos that appeared to be stolen. In response, Flickr accidentally pressed delete on the wrong account.

Wilhelm's Flickr account has been active for five years, and numerous websites have linked back to his photos during that time. "Those links will now point to deadspace," writes The New York Observer, "Additionally, the followers he had accumulated, tags, photo captions and copyright information have been wiped out and may not be restored."

After Wilhelm contacted Flickr, the photo sharing website admitted they accidentally deleted his account and issued a somewhat light apology:

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

Yahoo has not publicly commented on the matter but on Flickr's community forum on Tuesday, senior community manager Zach Sheppard tried to mollify angry users by saying an "undo delete" feature was in the works.

"We've been working on the ability to restore accounts for a while and hope to have it completed early this year.

"We have been in contact with Mirco and may be able to restore his account. The partial work that has been done so far may make it possible to retrieve the account. It's only a maybe but we want to try and do everything we can to rectify this mistake.

"Just as people have stated above, we also believe this is an important feature to have in place for cases like this when there was an error. As many of you know we usually do not discuss features before they are released but because of the community concern we wanted to let you know in this case."

Flickr had 21.3 million unique users in December 2010, down 16 per cent from a year earlier. It appears to be suffering defection of users to Facebook and other sites. There are some five billion photos and short videos stored on the site.


  1. 9thlife says

    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.

    Anonymous says

    They have no backups? This sounds bad for users all around. They do have backups? Then restore his from the backups.

    Anonymous says

    I just checked flickr and Mr. Wilhelm's account is up and running with photos as recent as Jan 23 2011 back to 2006. So it looks like flickr was able to restore it.

    Hopefully most photographers who make good use of flickr realize that it's not to be their only back up for digital images. Flickr is a sharing site and I've been very happy with my experience.

    Anonymous says

    You can link your flickr account to QOOP and make a back up disk that is mailed to you. I've done it and it has worked great for me twice now. There is a small flickr logo down the right side of the page that starts the process.

    Anonymous says

    I personally would be really mad at them for doing that, but at the same time the person that has this account should really know by now that you have to backup your images no matter what the case is. Because even if your hard drive crashes you should still back up your images because you would be screwed there too. So a little advice for the person that lost all photos, next time back them up!!

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