Who Has the Keys to Your Online Treasure Chests?

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Flickr is a wonderful, cheap (or free!) way to store and serve images online. When you’ve used a Flickr account for several years, it becomes a rich repository of historic media — a veritable treasure chest.

I’ve been trying to help a client (who shall remain nameless, to spare their blushes — and to preserve my relationship with them) to recover access to their old corporate Flickr account.

It’s clearly branded as such, both in the name and logo, and is obviously so from the content.

It seems the staff member who set it up, and has long since left, did not register it with their corporate email address, but a personal one.

We’ve emailed them at a publicly-available address, to ask for their assistance, but they haven’t responded — I don’t know whether they left the organisation willingly, nor under what circumstances.

Flickr support say we can only recover it if we can tell them information only the account holder would know, such as:

  • Describe the contents of any private photos in the account.
  • Provide the names of any of the non-public albums in the account.
  • Provide the name any Private Groups the account is in.
  • List any third-party apps that have been authorized on the account (uploaders, social apps, etc).
  • If you used the FlickrMail system, please describe some of the conversations that you have had in there.
  • If you can recall back to when you had a paid account, please tell me the exact date and amount for some of the charges that you’ve gotten from us.

Of course, we can’t do that.

It looks like my client will never get back access to their account, and any non-public media locked in it. Fortunately, there is nothing there that is publicly viewable and embarrassing, though some of it is dated.

The best Flickr will offer, in the circumstances, is to make the whole account private.

A salutary lesson to the rest of you, to check who has “ownership” of not just organisations’ Flickr, but social media, cloud storage and similar accounts.

And do the same for all your domain names, too — in a past job, I found one that had been registered to a staff member’s spouse!

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