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Flickr Accidentally Deletes 4,000 Photos, Offers Polite Apology to Photographer

marco wilhelmA Zurich-based photoblogger named Mirco Wilhelm is really, really upset today, because Flickr accidentally deleted his account, along with some 4,000 of his online photographs.

The mishap occurred a few days ago, after Wilhelm sent in a support ticket to complain about a user who was posting photos that appeared to be stolen. The Flickr staff member who received the complaint mixed up the two users, and ended up deleting Wilhelm's account. "Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours," the employee wrote in an e-mail to Wilhelm. "I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled." The staff member went on to say that the blogger could restore his account, but he wouldn't be able to recoup his lost photos.

Fortunately, Wilhelm backed up the images somewhere else, but all his followers, tags, captions and copyright information have been lost. Many of his Flickr photos were also linked to and from other websites, but, now that his account's been deleted, those links will only lead to a dead end. To make matters worse, Wilhelm is a dues-paying member of FlickrPro, which costs $24.95 a year. "This would be acceptable, if I had a free account," he wrote in a blog post. "But since I'm a paying customer, I would expect a bit more than a 'Again, I am deeply sorry for this mistake.'"

Wilhelm soon received a follow-up e-mail from Flickr, but has yet to regain access to his photos. Yahoo, however, says the site is working on a solution. "Yesterday, Flickr inadvertently deleted a member's account," Yahoo confirmed in a statement provided to the Observer. "Flickr takes user trust very seriously and we, like our users, take great pride in being able to take, post and share photos. Our teams are currently working hard to try to restore the contents of this user's account. We are working on a process that would allow us to easily restore deleted accounts and we plan on rolling this functionality out soon."

Wilhelm, however, is understandably peeved, and says he may even take action against the company. "I did a quick check of the terms of service, and in my eyes deleting my paid account without any reason or misconduct from my side could be interpreted as a breach of contract," he wrote to the Observer. "Deleting the content might even be counted as theft." Before pursuing the matter in court, though, he says he'll wait to see what Yahoo can do to clean up this mess.

Tags: accident, delete, flickr, FlickrPro, images, mistake, photoblogger, photographer, photography, photos, switzerland, top, Web, yahoo, Zurich