Privacy and Yahoo’s Integration of Flickr with Image Search

Yahoo! recently highlighted in the Yahoo! Search Blog that they have now integrated the millions of Flickr photos into the image search results. This lets users of Yahoo! Image search access 300 million Flickr photos directly from Yahoo!. I am a huge Flickr fan and love to browse photos.

As an amateur photographer (albeit not very good), I am always very concerned about where my photos may turn up. For a long time this kept me from posting my personal photos on online photo-sharing sites. In the image search results, Yahoo attributes images to the photographer using the ‘by membername on Flickr’ attribution. A click on the thumbnail leads directly to the photo. A click on the photographer’s name leads to the photgrapher’s Flickr photo stream. As users of Flickr already know that is a starting point for viewing the photographer’s public photos.

A feature of Flick that I personally like is that a photographer can set viewing permissions for each photo and can block from public view any photo. A photographer can also change these settings at will. According to an update posted on the Yahoo! Search Blog in response to comments, images shown in image search are those that the photographer has labeled public. This means that photographers posting personal photos – clearly marked as blocked from public view – can expect to have their privacy rights respected. It is unclear how Yahoo! will handle fickle-minded photographers who change their permissions.

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