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Yahoo’s Flickr Hardcore Content, Porn Ads Hissing Off Mainstream Advertisers; Chevy Calls it an “Outrage”

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from www.businessinsider.com – There is a lot of porn on Yahoo’s photo-sharing site, Flickr.

It’s not just softcore stuff, either.

There’s old men with little girls, hardcore stuff, bondage, and feet everywhere.

Some of it is merely gross.

Some of it is plain wrong.

We’re not linking to it, but trust us, it is there.

And really – that’s bad enough, right?

But it gets worse for Yahoo.

Not only is there all this porn, there are also ads next to lots of it. If you go to the site as an un-logged-in user, you’ll see ads for big name brands like Kohl’s, General Motors, Dunkin Donuts, and more.

Alerted by an activist, representatives of brands say they had no idea their ads would show up next to pictures of naked people – and sometimes children.

In emails obtained by Business Insider, many of the advertisers say they plan to end their campaigns. The brand manager for Chevrolet calls the issue an “outrage.”

That can’t be good for Yahoo, which badly whiffed on its display advertising sales in Q2.

We talked to Yahoo PR and Cathryn Weems [pictured], policy and abuse manager for Flickr, about the issue.

On the porn itself, Weems said:

Flickr is a photography site. We’ve got millions of users. A lot of them are using it as a creative outlet and we don’t want to censor or judge the varied lifestyles or interest our members have.

We assure that local laws are adhered to. If anyone is not playing by the rules we either warn them or delete their account.

Even if we disallowed all nudity as maybe some other user-generated content sites don’t allow it, we would still possible run up against this issue by people who refuse to adhere to our guidlines. Us allowing nudity on our site is not the cause of this problem.

Every UGC site I”m sure runs up against the problem. I can’t imagine anyone would be immune from this because there will be people who don’t know the rules or people who are truly not trying to be play by the rules. I don’t think Flickr is unique in that at all.

The problem with this response is that other “UGC” sites do actually do a better job of policing for porn.

Occasionally, some naked people will find their way onto YouTube. But for a site that used to be loaded with the stuff pre-Google, it’s now mostly porn-free.

Yahoo pointed out one video with some naked people in it, but it turns out the clip was from a documentary about the porn industry. Besides, even if it had some bare-chested women in it, it was nothing like the child pornography available on Flickr.

On the mistake of putting ads next to porn, Weem said:

We only serve ads on safe content – content marked safe. If people upload content that is not considered safe, but don’t moderate it correctly, we will take action against the user’s account. If somebody chooses not to play by the rules, we take action as soon as we are notified.

The problem with this response is that Yahoo thinks this self-policing system works much better than it does.

During our phone conversation, Weems guessed that the porn we found on Flickr had been uploaded only very recently and had maybe two or three pageviews. In fact, the image – in the screen cap above – had been uploaded in October 2009, and viewed 5,235 times. (We told Flickr how to find the image and it has since been removed.)

Yahoo should figure out how IAC video-sharing site Vimeo is solving this problem. Like Flickr, it has an anti-censorship policy, and allows sexy-posing naked people on its site. Unlike Flickr, it only serves in-house ads against the raunchier stuff.

Macro-level, these problems seem like a sign of rot at Yahoo and Flickr, in particular.

Flickr was hit very hard in Yahoo’s April 2009 layoffs.

Since then, Yahoo has entirely missed the wave on iPhone-friendly photo-sharing apps.

Has it also, since then, allowed a once-modest porn problem to grow wildly beyond its control? Seems so.

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