Flickr flushes 4,000 photo account by mistake

When Zurich-based photographer Mirco Wilhelm reported another Flickr user for stealing his snaps, didn't realise he was letting himself into a world of pain.

The photo-blogger, who has had a paid account with photo gallery site for five years, reported the alleged infringement a short while ago and thought nothing more about it until he tried to log into his account a few days later.

Unable to get access, Wilhelm contacted Flickr only to be told that rather than flushing the offending account, sys-admins at the photo storage outfit had deleted his own, along with 4,000 images and five years' worth of links.

Now at this point you'd expect Flickr to offer Wilhelm a sincere apology and a couple of years of free access before reinstating his account to its former glory.

Unfortunately - and I want you to read this very carefully people - Flickr has no way of reinstating deleted accounts. That's right folks. One of the largest and longest-established photo-sharing sites in the world doesn't make back-ups.

The Flickr drone responsible for the cock-up wrote:

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.

Mr Wilhelm is fortunately smart enough to keep back-ups of his own work, but how many people rely on Flickr as their primary storage for precious images?

The company is currently scrabbling around desperately trying to restore Wilhelm's work and has announced that it is working on systems to enable the resurrection of killed accounts, but we find it unbelievable that the Yahoo-owned outfit waited for a disaster like this before considering the consequences of having no back-up systems in place.

A schoolboy error of the highest order.