Flickr Removing Images: We Got This

Community Member
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***Please note updated Flickr Removal Dates, due to Flickr Clarification***

Thank you to ian.linkletter@ubc.ca‌ for pointing out the clarification.

Flickr is Removing Millions of Images

On November 1, 2018, Flickr announced a plan to remove millions of images on February 5, 2019. For Canvas users, this news was quite concerning, as Canvas offers Flickr as an easy way to find and insert images into content and as Canvas Dashboard Course Card images. On November 9, 2018, Flickr clarified their announcement, explaining that material licensed by Creative Commons would not be removed. The good news is, the Flickr search mechanism we implemented for all course content in Canvas will only return Flickr images licensed by Creative Commons. Therefore, images added to your courses using Canvas’ Flickr search are expected to be safe from the February 5 removal of images.

 

However, the Canvas Dashboard Course Cards may not be as safe. The Flickr search mechanism we employ for this feature uses both Creative Commons search results and Public Domain search results. This combination means there is a chance that images may be removed from Canvas Dashboard Course Cards.

We want to help!

While Flickr didn’t give us a ton of time to find and implement a solution to help our users with this problem, we jumped into action as quickly as possible.  In addition to a short time frame, a few considerations have made it tough for us to have a perfect solution.

  1. Flickr replaces removed images with another image that says “image not found”. While that behavior seems like a nice thing to do, it’s quite out of the ordinary. Normally, when images that are hosted on other sites (like Flickr) are removed, we can detect the image removal. Flickr’s method of replacing the removed image with another image makes normal “image not found” types of detection ineffective.
  2. Flickr is removing images at the very beginning of a semester (February 5). Why is that a problem? Well, it creates a challenge for us because the beginning of a semester is when a lot of classes are just beginning and just ending. Determining which courses are active or soon to be active becomes a challenge.

So what’s the plan?

  1. We very quickly updated the Course Link Validator to detect Flickr’s unusual broken image method. That work went to beta December 10th and will be in our next production release, January 5th.
  2. We will run the link validator globally on February 4th to check for Flickr images. We’ll do the same thing on February 6th after Flickr has done its mass removal of images. At that point, we should have a pretty good idea which courses have been affected.
  3. We will send an email to all owners of the affected content to tell them exactly where we detected a Flickr broken image.

Introducing Unsplash

We’re happy to have come up with and implemented a short-term plan to handle the mass removal of Flickr images on February 9th, but we also saw this change as an opportunity to look for a better long-term, more holistic solution for all of our Canvas users. As many of you may know, we’ve had a history of issues with Flickr returning unsafe images to our “safe search” query. This has led some schools to block Flickr, and some requests that we remove Flickr from Canvas.

 

The one thing Flickr had over its competitors was a Creative Commons search and a “Safe Search”. For a long time, we couldn’t find anything to properly replace Flickr by meeting both of these searching requirements.

Until now.

 

In early 2019 we’ll begin the process of untangling Flickr from Canvas and replacing it with a fabulous product called Unsplash. Unsplash provides hand-selected, professional photographs for free. We highly encourage you to go check out their site. They are a fantastic, collaborative company, and we think when you see the quality they provide, you’ll be as excited as we are about what a positive effect Unsplash will have on your Canvas course content in the future.

 

Watch for future changes to the Canvas Interface to be announced in the release notes, as well as additional information about our new partnership with Unsplash.

23 Comments
Community Coach
Community Coach

500K+ Creative Commons Images [Free] | Download Beautiful Pictures  looks FAB! Can't wait until it's up and running.

Thanks Instructure Clever People for making this happen and Deactivated user for sharing the good news. Early Christmas pressie.

Adventurer

Thanks for being such a proactive, transparent product! Keep being awesome Canvas.

299774_youreawesome.gif

Adventurer

I've been teaching electronic publishing courses, including image editing, for years and many students really like Unsplash. I combined all free image resources that students use and that I suggest in this remixable/sharable/downloadable OER on OER Commons: Image, Video, and Audio Resources. It was the first OER that I created (January 2018) and it's my most popular so far! There is an LTI for OER Commons that integrates with Canvas, too.

Community Member

Thank you, dejonghed07@macomb.edu‌.

Created Nov. 1, 2018 by , userDenise Dejonghe Image, Video and Audio Resources

You. Are. Awesome!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Unsplash is a create resource.  I featured it in a blog post a while ago:

Where to find amazing pictures for your class content 

You might also check out:

Others I've heard of: Gratisography, Stockvault, PicJumbo, Reshot, Rawpixel.  Honestly, I can usually find what I'm looking for in the above four links.  We are also fortunate to have content libraries with Articulate and iSpring, but they aren't always all inclusive for what we need.  

If you want to read more about copying, adapting, and distributing images: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ 

Surveyor

The Flickr blog post is not very clear. Someone pointed out to me that while the new account limitations come into place on January 8th, photos will not be deleted until February 5th. You will need to run the global scan then.

Explorer III

Deactivated user‌ mentioned #3 in the plan is to, "...send an email to all owners of the affected content to tell them exactly where we detected a Flickr broken image."  Is it possible for the Canvas admins to get a report of all the broken images in their instance?

Also, can you please verify that the mass removal of Flickr images is Jan. 9, 2019? Thank you.

Community Member

I'm sorry to say that we do not currently have plans to build a custom report for Administrators for this one time event. And because Flickr is an entirely separate company, we have to rely on the communication they have provided everyone with. As of right now, the communication they've provided (blog posts linked above) is January 9th.

Surveyor

Flickr will be deleting photos on February 5th, 2019. Their original blog post is unclear, but the January date is when free accounts with 1000+ photos will be restricted from uploading more photos.

You can read about the February 5th date in this pinned post from the Flickr Help Forums or by searching their recent Twitter replies for "Feb 5".

I agree with the previous poster that a custom report would be very useful.

Community Member

We're one of the institutions (K-12) that blocks Flickr for our students due to the unsafe images that Deactivated user‌ mentions.  The issue with Flickr is the lack of any identifying information that our filters can use.  I'm pleased to see that Unsplash includes the photographer in the filename.  This would allow us to blacklist a photographer if needed.  I'm hopeful this, along with the hand-selection of images placed in their repository, will allow our use of this resource.  If so, our teachers will be thrilled.  Thank you Instructure!

Community Member

Thank you so much for sharing this, Kristie. It's so great to hear how changes we work on benefit folks like you!

Community Member

Christi, I was hoping that if needed, we could blacklist a particular collection of photos using the photographers name, but that's not possible.  The Unsplash license prohibits the upload of "objectionable, profane, indecent, pornographic," images.  This is hopeful!  The thing I would like, which I did not see in searching their site, is a way to report images so they can be taken down. I wasn't logged in when doing a search, so this could be a feature that requires a login. It's important so that if we had a parent complaint, we could report a course of action taken.  Better to take down an image than to block the site.  FYI, when doing a quick search I saw an image that used profanity (spelled out in candles on a birthday cake).  What seems innocuous to a photographer posting the pic, isn't viewed the same way by a parent looking over the shoulder of their third grader.  Thanks!

Explorer III

I'm glad your checking this kristin.bayless@vansd.org‌, thank you. It's important to our institution as well.

Community Team
Community Team

kristin.bayless@vansd.org 

A streamlined process for reporting abuse in pictures would need to happen through Unsplash.  We would not have any developmental control over this.  I did do some searching and found an email abuse@unsplash.com in the Terms & Conditions | Unsplash 

Community Member

Thanks Renee!  I didn't think to look for an email.

Community Member

Double Checking - Does this mean you'll send emails to each faculty who have a course where you've detected missing Flickr content? I'm thinking of sending them a friendly heads up if this is the case.

Also, would those emails be going out on the 6th? 

EDIT: Flickr is apparently delaying deleting until March 12th. My questions still stand!

Surveyor

"The good news is, the Flickr search mechanism we implemented for all course content in Canvas will only return Flickr images licensed by Creative Commons. Therefore, images added to your courses using Canvas’ Flickr search are expected to be safe from the February 5 removal of images."

For the above statement how does that relate to older images in course content?  Has that search method only ever provided Creative Commons images that are safe from removal?  Otherwise course content images could get removed if they were added when the old functionality was in place.    

 

Community Team
Community Team

Read through the Canvas Release Notes (2019-06-22)‌ for more information on this change!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi rcarney@instructure.com thanks for sharing. From what I can tell this release relates to Canvas Commons only, if my understanding is correct, are there plans to replace flickr in the rich content editor with unsplash?

Thanks,

m.mccooey@qub.ac.uk‌ 
richcontenteditor flickr canvas releases

Community Team
Community Team

m.mccooey@qub.ac.uk, in this release, yes it is true that the unsplash change is Canvas Commons only.  I do believe there will be a broader change, but I need to check that.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate
Community Team
Community Team

yes, Maeve, stay tuned.  More announcements to come 😉 

Community Team
Community Team

Course Card Search is now available!  Canvas Release Notes (2019-08-17)